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THE MATAPAN AFFAIR 1 



i. 

A Parisian house is a little world in itself. Some abodes in the great 
capital of France strongly resemble bee-hives. The busy hum of labour 
resounds there night and day, and a different calling is plied on each 
floor. But apart from the dwellings occupied by artisans, how many 
strange events are constantly occurring, and how many strange people 
dwell in the buildings which line the more fashionable thoroughfares ! 
These houses are still comparatively new : they have no history, or none 
save that of the contractor who made his fortune by building them — the 
every-day story of a man coming to Paris in wooden shoes, and dying a 
millionaire. None of their occupants are ministers or academicians ; none 
of them have ever conspired or written a masterpiece. The buildings 
themselves are too respectable in appearance to harbour disreputable 
characters, and too carefully kept to take fire. As they have never gained 
any notoriety, newspaper reporters know nothing about them, and as they 
are all very much alike, passers-by do not pause to look at them. And 
yet behind these majestic facades, people love and hate : here one man 
hoards his gold, here another squanders his wealth. Pride, envy, avarice, 
idleness, and indeed all the cardinal sins, can abide here, providing they 
pay their rent. 

Strange dramas are not unfrequently enacted in these houses — not 
thrilling ones perhaps, in which the traitor delivers threatening speeches in 
a bombastic manner, in which the noble father solemnly blesses his off- 
spring, while injured innocence plaintively relates its wrongs — but dramas 
which do not always end like those on the stage, where crime is invariably 
punished and virtue rewarded before the curtain falls. 

This is the substance of what two well dressed young men were saying as 
they walked up the Boulevard Haussmann, side by side, one November 
evening. It wa3 past midnight, but the weather was delightful, and they 
were returning home from the opera on foot, smoking their cigars and 
relating their achievements in love and war, like M. de Coconnas and M. 
de la Mole in Dumas' "Peine Margot." Indeed they bore a striking 
resemblance to the heroes of Dumas' romance in many other respects. One 
of them was tall and powerfully built, with a dark complexion, long 
moustache, and erect bearing. His companion, a fair-haired young man of 
medium height, slender figure and distinguished appearance, would, like 
La Mole, certainly have had no difficulty in winning the favour of 
Marguerite of Navarre. 



6 TOE MATAPAN AFPA1B. 

"Here we are nearly at your house," remarked the tall, dark-com- 
plexioned gentleman. " As I have come so far with you, you certainly 
ought to walk back to the club with me." 

"No, indeed," exclaimed the other. "We have gossiped and philo- 
sophised enough this evening. I am sleepy, and intend to go straight to 
bed." 

" That may be all very well for you, who are in love ; but I have no idea 
of going home at an hour when people who know what real enjoyment is, 
are just going but." 

"What makes you think I am in love ? " 

"Oh, that is evident enough. You have not been yourself for three 
months or more. Something has wrought a great change in my friend, 
Albert Doutrelaise. You shut yourself up like a hermit, and when one 
does happen to meet you, it is only in the most virtuous places. " 

" At the opera, for instance," interrupted the fair-haired young fellow, 
laughing. 

" Bah ! once is not always. Do you wish me to tell you why you went 
out this evening, and whom you expected to meet ? " 

" I won't trouble you to do so." 

" And why you are in such haste now to get up to your rooms on the 
fourth floor ? " 

"Courtaumer, my friend, you bore me." 

" So you absolutely forbid me to peep over the wall into your private 
life. Very well ; we will say no more about it. But let us talk of some- 
thing else. What was I saying just now ! Oh yes, I recollect. I was 
remarking that I should like to know what was going on in many Parisian 
dwellings, yours among the number. But you ought to know yours pretty 
thoroughly by this time. Describe it to me. I am sure you could give me 
a truthful portrait of each of the inmates of No. 319, as doorkeepers say. 
And speaking of doorkeepers, suppose you begin b*y describing yours." 

" That is an easy task. He is old, ugly, and toothless. He only reads 
the Radical papers, and I fancy he has taken very high orders in the society 
of Freemasons. He has a daughter who plays the piano and who intends 
to come out upon the stage. His name is Cyrille Marchefroid. " 

"An admirable description. Evidently, your connection is not of the 
most agreeable character." 

" We have no association whatever. I never speak to him, and he does 
not even bow to me." 

" Good ! I understand it now ; he hates you. But go on with your 
description. We will begin with the first floor, and you can sketch your 
portraits as hastily as you please." 

"Well, on the first floor resides the landlord in person, the illustrious 
Matapan, the possessor of a dozen millions, made in foreign lands by selling 
no one knows what — negroes, so envious people say." 

" I know him. At least, he has been pointed out to me in the Champs- 
Elysees. Is he married ? " 

"No; he lives alone with his valet— an ebony-hued rascal whom he 
must have brought with him from the Indies— and with a chest full of gold 
and precious stones, so people pretend. He has, however, onlv been 
living for a month on the first floor. Before the fifteenth of October, he 
occupied the second storey, and Monsieur de la Calprenede, who now lives 
on the second floor, occupied the first. " 

" What induced them to make the change ? " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 7 

"I don't know, upon my word! Possibly Monsieur do la Calprencde 
found his rent too high." 

"But he is rich." 

" He has boon, and I suppose still is so, though ho has greatly out down 
his expenditure of late." 

" I heard at the club that his son Julien has squandered a good deal of his 
money. If lie goes on at the present rate, and his father continues to pay 
his debts every year, his sister will be obliged to die an old maid for want 
of a dowry. She may be able to dispense with one, however, as she is 
certainly charming ; in fact, I don't think she will ever go begging for 
suitors. At least, I know one who — " 

•'Jacques, no poaching upon my manor, I entreat." 

' ' So you confess at last. Now, I'll say no more to you about your love 
affairs, and since the people on the second floor are so near your heart, I 
will allow you to pass on to the third." 

"The third floor lacks prestige, being essentially plebeian in every 
respect. Monsieur Bourleroy, who has retired from business after amassing 
a fortune as a wholesale druggist, cannot console himself for having failed 
to receive a decoration. His heir-presumptive is a thorough radical, while 
Madame Bourleroy has remained a moderate republican : Mademoiselle 
Bourleroy has no political opinions, but would willingly become a member 
of the aristocracy, should a handsome nobleman ask her hand in marriage. 
If you are matrimonially inclined, my dear fellow, I am quite sure that 
they are very well off, and I know that their Herminie is an only daughter." 

" Thanks, my dear friend, I'm not quite ready for such a step at present. 
I don't know how I may feel ten years hence, but it is now my intention to 
enjoy myself as only a bachelor can in Paris." 

"My life of gaiety is over," said Albert, a trifle sadly. 

" That's very evident. There is nothing left for you but to marry, and 
I advise you to do so as soon as possible. Go in, my dear fellow, and con- 
sole yourself for not having seen your sweetheart at the opera by gazing at 
her windows — you can see them from yours, can't you ? Shall I see you 
to-morrow at breakfast ? " 

" I don't know. Good-night." 

"By the way, is it true that Mademoiselle de la Calprenede's name is 
Arlette ? " 

This time the exasperated lover shut the door in his friend's face. Albert 
Doutrelaise was now beyond the reach of his comrade's indiscreet questions, 
but he was not a little surprised to find himself in profound darkness. The 
doorkeeper, on extinguishing the gas at midnight, usually left a lamp 
burning in the hall, and a candle beside it for each tenant : but on this 
particular evening, he had neglected to take this precaution, and Albert, 
not caring to wake him, decided to find his way up without a light. He 
was familiar with the staircase, and had no fear of losing his way ; so 
taking hold of the balustrade he slowly and cautiously began the ascent. 

He had speedily forgotten Jacques do Courtaumer's jests, but he was 
already thinking of the person whose name his friend had mentioned on 
leaving him, and he paid little hoed to what was passing around him. Had 
he been less absorbed, he would have heard the stairs creak under the tread 
of some one in advance of him, probably some other tenant, obliged like 
himself to find his way up in the dark ; but even if this sound had at- 
tracted his attention it would probably have caused him little or no 
anxiety, the house being one ^i those in which one is exposed to constant 



8 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

meetings. Moreover, Albert Doutrelaise was not the only occupant who 
returned home late : young Calprenede and young Bourleroy being troubled 
by no compunctions of conscience whenever they disturbed the slumber of 
the doorkeeper. So Albert went on leisurely and noiselessly, for he was 
not very heavy, and there was a carpet on the stairs. The first landing 
was reached without his meeting anyone, but a little further on he came 
in contact with a living obstacle, and at the same instant a hand clutched his 
arm, a hand of steel, with a vice-like grip which drew from him a cry of pain. 

Doutrelaise was certainly not a coward, but he had nerves, and darkness 
is not good for the nerves. " Midnight courage is the most rare of all," said 
Napoleon, who knew what he was talking about. 

Doutrelaise did not exactly lose his head in his surprise, but it took him 
a second or two to regain his composure. "Who is there 1 What do you 
want ? " he asked quickly. 

Receiving no response, he aimed a blow at his assailant — which proved 
effectual, for his arm was suddenly released. Then he in turn attempted 
to seize hold of the person who had ventured to touch him, and, as he did 
so, he came in contact with a clenched hand which he attempted to grasp, 
but which escaped him. All he could do was to clutch at something this 
hand held — an object which seemed very like a chain, and at which he 
pulled so stoutly that a portion of it remained between his fingers. At that 
moment his self-possession suddenly returned to him, and it seemed to him 
advisable not to continue this absurd combat any longer. 

His companion appeared to have no evil designs, since, instead of return- 
ing to the charge, he remained against the wall without making any 
movement or saying a word. He was probably far more frightened than 
his assailant, and there could be no reasonable doubt but what he was 
one of the inmates of the mansion. At all events he was not a thief, for it 
would have been an easy matter for him to have allowed Doutrelaise to 
pass. He could scarcely have failed to hear him coming, and he would 
only have been obliged to step into one of trie doorway recesses, to avoid 
meeting him. All this flashed through Albert's mind in a second, and, 
without wasting any more time in seeking an explanation of this strange 
incident, he cleared the rest of the staircase in tfiree bounds. On the 
second flight he paused for an instant to listen, and discovered that the 
person he had left behind had begun to ascend the stairs again with a slow 
and measured tread. "Nonsense!" said Doutrelaise to himself; "I am 
certainly very foolish to trouble myself about such a trifle. Probably it is 
Bourleroy 's servant, returning late from a wineshop." He continued his 
ascent, though not without lending an attentive ear to what was going on 
behind him ; and soon he heard a key turn in a lock and then a door open 
and gently close again. " I know who it is now," murmured Doutrelaise. 
" It's Julien de la Calprenede, returning half intoxicated, as usual. It's a 
lucky thing that I didn't shout, ' Thief ! ' The doorkeeper would have 
been only too glad of such an opportunity to create a scandal. He hates 
the nobility, and Monsieur de la Calprenede is a count. The whole neigh- 
bourhood would have been apprised of the affair, and our amiable Cerberus 
would have told the tale to suit his own fancy. Still, Julien is really very 
wrong to act as he does. The first time I see him I shall take the liberty 
of lecturing him a little. I know a young lady who would be very grateful 
to me for bringing her brother back into the right path. Where did she 
spend the evening ? The count was to have taken her to the opera, but 
they were not there. She is probably asleep ere now. I sha'n't even have 



'rit'K m«fAr.i;i AFFAIR. » 

the pleasure of contemplating the light of her lamp to-night. Ah ! if she 
thought of me as often as I think of her, Mademoiselle Arlette wouldn't 
sleep much. Courtaumer is right — I am in love, and the fact is apparent 
to everyone." 

This soliloquy brought Albert Doutrelaise to the fourth floor, where he 
occupied a suite of rooms much too large for him, for he only kept a valet 
and a cook. He had taken them by chance, and had often thought of 
leaving them, but had been deterred by a reason which would have made 
him willing to endure every imaginable inconvenience. M. de la Cal- 
prenede lived in the house, and M. de la Calprenede had a daughter. He 
bad been rich, but was no longer considered so ; while Doutrelaise had 
come into possession of an income of thirty-six thousand francs on attaining 
his majority. The name, it is true, was not written with an apostrophe 
after the D, and he was not the man to ennoble himself by a trick of ortho- 
graphy ; but though not of noble birth he had the manners, and, what is 
better still, the sentiments of a true nobleman. Mademoiselle de la Cal- 
prenede would certainly not have contracted a mesalliance by wedding him. 
And in case he married, there would not be the slightest necessity for him 
to change his residence, for he had room enough for a large family. The 
house had been built in accordance with the plans of a gentleman who 
cared much less about deriving a large income from his property, than 
about providing himself with comfortable quarters. The house faced the 
street, and behind it extended a courtyard, enclosed by a wing on either 
side. An entire floor was occupied by each tenant, and the arrangement 
of each of the four floors was alike in every particular ; the reception rooms 
being in front, and the bedrooms to the right and left of the vestibule in 
the wings overlooking the courtyard. 

Doutrelaise used but one of these wings, the other serving as a repository 
for his library and his works of art, for he was much more fond of books 
mid pictures than display. The wing in which he slept, however, was 
directly opposite that occupied by the Count de la Calprenede and his 
children. Doutrelaise had consigned his valet to a room in the other wing, 
and did not require him to wait for him later than midnight. That even- 
ing, especially, he felt no desire to call him, for he was anxious to see what 
was going on in the count's apartments. His adventure on the staircase 
had excited his curiosity, and he really wished to satisfy himself that the 
person he had just met was young Julien de la Calprenede. To do this, he 
had only to station himself at one of his windows and watch. There 
without a light, he could see, and not be seen. He knew that the first 
room in the left wing belonged to Julien, and also that it was separated by a 
kind of study from the count's sleeping apartment ; then came two large 
dressing-rooms, and finally the bed-room of Mademoiselle de la Calprenede. 
Consequently, he expected to find the first mentioned apartment lighted up, 
and the others shrouded in darkness, the count and his daughter being in 
the habit of retiring at an early hour when they stopped at home ; but he 
was considerably surprised to see that there was no light in any one of the 
rooms on the second floor. "That's strange," he muttered. "It was 
certainly not more than three minutes ago that I heard the count's door 
opened by the man I met on the stairs. It would be impossible for him to 
undress in so short a time. What has become of him ? I shall wait until 
I see some sign of his presence ; for if it was not Julien, it was — a thief ! 
But no, what nonsense ! A thief could not have the key of the count's 
apartment in his pocket." 



10 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

While indulging in this soliloquy, Albert watched withall his eyes. He 
soon became accustomed to the partial darkness, and fancied he could see a 
form slowly passing and repassing the windows in front. 

" I understand now," he muttered, " Julien does not feel any inclination 
to sleep and is wandering about his room like a soul in distress. And yet, 
one would hardly take that man to be Julien, he is scarcely as tall. Bah ! 
it's difficult to judge at such a distance. Ah, now he has disappeared ; he 
has made up his mind to go to bed probably. There only remains for me 
to do the same. " Doutrelaise was about to leave his observatory, when he 
suddenly exclaimed : "Why no, there he is in the study — he approaches 
the window. One would swear that he is going to kneel. Well, all this 
is quite beyond my comprehension. Now he disappears again. Really, I 
have had enough of this. I'm not going to spend the night in watching the 
movements of a young fool who has taken more wine than is good for him. 
I shall meet him to-morrow at the club or somewhere else, and I will then 
ask him to explain these nocturnal wanderings. That will be a much better 
way of satisfying my curiosity than remaining here watching in the cold." 

On arriving at this conclusion, Doutrelaise proceeded to his bedroom, 
which was the last apartment in the left wing, just as that of Mademoiselle 
de la Calprenede was the last in the right one. Their windows were con- 
sequently directly opposite each other. 

Albert's consideration for his valet did not go to the extent of condoning 
any neglect of duty, and he was always sure to find a good fire and a lighted 
lamp on returning. On this particular evening, he viewed with no littla 
pleasure the brightly blazing fire, the cigars spread out upon a tray, and a 
new novel lying open beside a samovar in which some boiling water was 
singing cheerily. " There is nothing like a cup of good tea and a cigar for 
driving away foolish fancies," he exclaimed, "and it would be sheer folly 
to attach any importance to that episode on the staircase. I did not fare 
the worst in the collision, and, by the way, I carried something off with me, 
some spoil which I have had in my possession for fully a quarter of an hour 
without thinking of examining it. Let me look at it a little closer. This 
is stranger than ever," he exclaimed, after approaching the lamp. "I have 
purloined a superb ornament, a magnificent opal, handsomely mounted and 
surrounded by small diamonds. I wondered if I had not come in contact 
with a thief, but really, I appear to have been playing the part of a thief 
myself. " 

The bauble had evidently formed part of a necklace or a bracelet, and 
Doutrelaise had broken it off in his attempt to seize hold of the hand which 
held it, for tv/o of the connecting links that had formerly united the 
stories had been torn asunder. Albert examined the ornament carefully in 
the hope of discovering some mark which would assist him in solving the 
mystery. But the more he studied it, the more clouded his face became. 
" There is but one explanation," he murmured : " Julien plays a good deal 
and Monsieur de la Calprenede doesn't grant him a very large allowance. 
If he has lost any considerable amount, he is certainly unable to pay it, 
and instead of confessing his folly to his father, he took this necklace — it 
must be a necklace, for opals are not mounted in bracelets — which un- 
doubtedly belonged to his mother, intending to pawn it. I am thankful 
that he did not succeed in his attempt ; for he could not have done so, as 
he_ brought the ornament back again. There is yet time to check him in 
this unfortunate undertaking. To-morrow morning I will pay him an early 
call, and offer him the money he is in need of. I don't suppose he would 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 11 

refuse me the pleasure of obliging him. Still, who knows? lie is proud, 
like all the Calprenedes, and he has perhaps discovered that I love his 
sister. Nevertheless, I shall make the attempt, and I hope he will not 
take offence. It won't be difficult to broach the subject as I shall be under 
the necessity of returning this family jewel, and apologizing for treating 
him so unceremoniously on the staircase. Now I think of it, I wonder 
why he did not make a more vigorous defence. I had no idea he could be 
so patient. He probably feared that he would be obliged to explain how he 
happened to have this necklace in his possession. But why didn't he put 
it in his pocket? Another mystery. But nonsense, it will all be cleared 
up to-morrow." 

Having arrived at this conclusion, Doutrelaise locked the jewel up in a 
drawer, and began thinking of a different matter. For the first time in his 
life, he devotedly loved a woman in every way worthy of his affection. He 
was neither an unsophisticated nor an impulsive man, but for more than six 
months he had asked for nothing better than to renounce the celibacy 
which he had once held so dear and bow his head to the marriage yoke. It 
was Arlette de la Calprenede who had wrought this miracle. They had 
chanced to meet one evening in a house where Albert never set foot more 
than twice a year, and afterwards they had met frequently, for the young 
man profited by the fact that they lived in the same house. He made the 
most of the opportunities thus afforded, and although the count led a very 
retired life, he received Albert very cordially. But that evening everything 
, had gone wrong. Mademoiselle de la Calprenede had not appeared at the 
opera in accordance with Albert's anticipations, and he was about to re- 
tire disconsolately to bed, when suddenly a light appeared in the young girl's 
window. By some unusual chance, the curtains had not been lowered, and 
Albert saw a figure which made his heart beat faster. " Where can she 
come from at this hour ? " he asked himself. "She was with her father, 
perhaps. But no, there's no light in the count's room, and that good-for- 
nothing Julien certainly would not think of calling his sister in his present 
condition. Ah, she is kneeling, she is praying — for him, perhaps." 

Albert was right. Mademoiselle de la Calprenede was praying with her 
hands clasped, and her head bowed like a criminal before her judge. She 
seemed to be weeping despairingly. What sorrow could she have ? What 
trials had she to bear ? In society, she always seemed gay ; and at her age 
a girl is not an adept in concealing her feelings. " Can it be her brother's 
conduct that distresses her?" thought Doutrelaise. "The unfortunate 
fellow has perhaps already brought dishonour upon his name. It is quite 
time for me to interfere." 

The prayer was short and fervent. Mademoiselle de la Calprenede rose 
and approached the window ; but on perceiving the young man, who had 
not thought of leaving his place, she quickly retreated. The curtains fell 
almost instantly, and nothing more could be seen. Albert returned to his 
arm-chair to dream of the radiant vision that had just vanished. His 
reverie was a prolonged one, and he resolved to put an end to all further 
doubts and uncertainty on the morrow by making a formal request for the 
hand of Mademoiselle de la Calprenede, for he was much more interested in 
his project of marriage than in Julien's vagaries ; but before going to sleep, 
it never once occurred to him that the opal is a jewel that brings misfortune 
upon its possessor. 



12 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 



II. 



Although Albert Doutrelaise had retired at a very late hour, he woke 
up early the next morning. Lovers, as a rule, require very little sleep. 

He had learnt the night before that the girl he loved had deep sorrows 
which she revealed only to her God : he knew that she wept in secret, and 
that she prayed for strength to bear her trials, and he hoped that her 
thoughts turned to him, for on rising from her knees she had approached 
her window and looked in the direction of his. He could not doubt but 
what he had divined the cause of her grief, and he promised himself that 
he would speedily bring Julien back into the right path. While he was 
reflecting upon the best mode of procedure, his valet came in to light the 
fire, as he did every morning at nine o'clock. At the same time he 
brought a bundle of letters and papers, which he deposited on the table by 
the side of the bed. One of the letters was addressed in a handwriting 
which Albert recognized at once. " What can that simpleton Courtaumer 
have to say to me?" he muttered, as he glanced at the address. " We 
parted at midnight, and he sends me a message before daybreak. Some- 
thing serious must have happened. He is as quarrelsome as the devil, 
and possibly he got into some difficulty last night. Let us see." 

On opening the epistle he read the following enigmatical words : " An 
utter defeat, my dear fellow. The combat has ceased for want of the 
sinews of war, though I don't regard myself as finally beaten, by any 
means. If you are in a position to furnish me with fresh supplies, drop 
in after breakfast, between one and two o'clock. If you can't, we will say 
no more about it. I salute you. Your faithful comrade, Jacques de 
Courtaumer," 

" Fool ! " growled Doutrelaise, " he has been losing again, and a pretty 
sum evidently, since he is obliged to call upon me. Upon my word ! he 
would have done better to have remained in the navy than to abandon his 
profession and come to Paris to squander his fortune. I shall help him, 
of course, but really this occurs a little too often. I am not a millionaire. 
Besides, why doesn't he apply to his brother ? But what nonsense ! his 
brother is a magistrate, a married man and the father of a family. He 
would be furiously angry, and would refuse to lend him a farthing. There 
is really no one else but me to extricate him from his embarrassment. 
But I am going to make him promise, upon his word of honour, not to 
begin again." Thereupon, Albert crumpled up his friend's letter and pre- 
pared to open another. "Whose writing is this?" he murmured, as he 
tried to decipher a few lines written in a very irregular hand. "Heaven 
grant that it is not a request for another loan ! " But the signature made 
him open his eyes in astonishment, "Julien de la Calprenlde !" he ex- 
claimed. " Ah, this is quite a surprise ! This is the first time in his life 
that he ever wrote to me. Something of a very serious nature must have 
occurred — and yet all he says is : ' My dear Sir : — You will greatly 
oblige me if you will kindly meet me at the Cafe de la Paix, at 11 a.m. 
this morning, in the breakfast-room on the right, as you enter the establish- 
ment. I have a great favour to ask of you.' Another loan, as I supposed. 
So I was not mistaken last night : it was really he. To what straits must 
he be reduced to think of pawning a family jewel which probably did not 
belong to him ! But I shall be very glad to help him out of his trouble. 
He can have no idea of the pleasure his application gives me. His sister 



THE MatAPAN AFFAIR. 13 

shall grieve no more, for I am sure that it was on her brother's account 
she wept. A strange idea this to ask mo to meet him at a caf(5. Why did 
he not call upon me ? It would have been much easier." 

In the meantime, Doutrelaise had sprung out of bed, and begun to 
dress. In answer to his inquiry, his valet informed him that it was 
Julien who had left the letter — Julien already dressed to go out, although 
he seldom or never rose before noon. 

This information strengthened Albert in the belief that the young man's 
position was a desperate one, so he hastened over his toilet. At half-past 
ten he was ready, and he started out, not forgetting to place in his pocket 
the opal the disappearance of which must necessarily cause young Cal- 
prcnede no little anxiety. "Who knows?" Albert said to himself; "he 
perhaps only wishes to ask me to return it to him. He suspects that I 
was the person he met in the dark, and he did not discover until this morn- 
ing that the jewel was missing from the necklace. I will wait and see if 
he shows any inclination to broach the subject, and if he doesn't, I will 
speak to him about it." 

As Doutrelaise went down the stairs he met young Anatole Bourleroy, 
who was evidently returning after a night of dissipation, for his face was 
haggard and his clothing disordered. The bow exchanged between them 
was decidedly cool. On the second landing below Albert found himself 
face to face with M. Matapan ; and he was not a little surprised to see 
that he was ringing at the door of M. de la Calprenede's apartment. The 
nabob had a radiant air, and was arrayed with an elegance that became 
him well. He greeted his tenant with a wave of the hand and a friendly 
smile. The wave of the hand clearly signified : "I haven't time to talk 
with you this morning ; " so Doutrelaise passed on, saying to himself : 
"What is he doing here at this hour? The count doesn't receive guests 
in the morning, or at least he only sees persons who call on business, and 
I don't suppose that Monsieur Matapan collects his rents in person — 
besides, it is more than a month since quarter-day." 

He heard the door open, and a short parley took place between one of 
the count's servants and M. Matapan, who was then admitted. "Wonders 
will never cease," thought Albert. " It is quite evident that he was ex- 
pected. I did not fancy there was much congeniality between the land- 
lord and that tenant. This foreign millionaire doesn't belong to the same 
sphere as the Calprenedes ; and yet, here he is calling upon them before 
mid-day in the most unceremonious fashion — hardly though, for his toilet 
has evidently been made with the greatest care. All this is inexplicable, 
unless — and why not ? — unless Julien has conceived the unfortunate idea of 
borrowing money of him." 

To tell the truth, the love-sick Doutrelaise was greatly exercised in 
mind about this early visit, and yet he had no just cause to distrust 
M. Matapan, who had always treated him with the greatest possible 
courtesy. In fact, the landlord was on excellent terms with all his 
tenants, and it would have been extremely ungracious in them to re- 
proach him for living according to his tastes. He certainly had a right 
to love solitude, especially as he was a bachelor ; to eat sometimes at 
home, sometimes at a restaurant ; to go off unexpectedly, without telling 
any one where he was bound, or when he intended to return ; to live like 
a miser for months together, and then scatter his gold right and left when- 
ever the fancy seized him. On reflection, Doutrelaise decided that he was 
attaching undue importance to a very trivial incident, and by the time he 



14 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

had reached the street door, his thoughts had taken an entirely different 
course. 

The doorkeeper chanced to be standing on the threshold, as solemn and 
sanctimonious as usual. Doutrelaise, who very rarely accosted him, 
■suddenly resolved to obtain some information from him in a roundabout 
way concerning the encounter of the evening before. " Monsieur Marche- 
froid," he remarked carelessly, "I narrowly escaped breaking my neck on 
the stairs last evening. The lamp was not lighted as usual, and I could 
not find my candle." 

"You surprise me, sir," replied the doorkeeper. "I lighted the lamp 
myself before going to bed. " 

"Then one of the tenants must have extinguished it wheD he came in." 

" Was it for you, sir, that I opened the door at half past twelve ? " 

"Yes." 

" Then no one could have touched the lamp, for I lighted it at midnight, 
and from that time until you came in, no one entered the house." 

" You must be mistaken, for on going upstairs I came in contact with 
some one who could have entered but a minute or two in advance of me." 

" I assure you, sir, that such a thing was impossible. I was in bed, but 
not asleep ; I was reading, and I am certain that I didn't open the door 
until you came in." 

" That's very strange. I am perfectly sure that I met a gentleman on 
the stairs between the first and second floor. I was unable to recognize 
him in the darkness, and I did not speak to him, but I thought it was young 
Monsieur de la Calprenede." 

"Ah ! he comes and goes at all hours of the night. I have been in- 
tending to complain to the landlord for some time. The young man's 
habits are not suited to a respectable house. But he wasn't here at mid- 
night. He rang at a quarter past two, went up to his room, and left the 
house again twenty minutes afterwards. Nor is this all ; at six o'clock he 
repeated the performance. If monsieur does not believe me, he can ask 
the young gentleman himself," the majestic doorkeeper added, by way of 
conclusion, and with an air of offended dignity. 

"I believe you, of course, Monsieur Marchefroid," replied Albert ; " be- 
sides Monsieur de la Calprenede has an undoubted right to come and go 
when he pleases. Only take care in future that I'm not obliged to find my 
way up in the dark." 

And to put an end to a conversation which had lasted too long already, 
Doutrelaise went off. To reach the Cafe" de la Paix he merely had to follow 
the Boulevard Haussmann as far as the Rue Auber, and as it was only half 
past ten there was no need of haste. So he walked slowly, devoting his 
leisure to reflecting on the information just received. This was such a 
direct contradiction of the conclusions he had arrived at the previous even- 
ing, that he was tempted to believe that the doorkeeper had not told the 
truth, or at least only a portion of it. Julien de la Calprenede must have 
returned for the first time a little in advance of Doutrelaise ; still that would 
not prevent him ringing again at two o clock if he had gone out again in 
the meantime. House porters sleep soundly, and M. Marchefroid while 
dozing over his paper might have mechanically pulled the cord that opened 
the door almost without being aware of it. Ihe more Albert thought over 
the matter, the more firmly he was persuaded that he had solved the 
mystery. But suddenly, a very forcible objection]occurred to him. "I had 
been talking at least ten minutes to Jacques de Courtaumer on the doorstep 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 15 

before I decided to ring," he said to himself. " If Julien had gone in 
while we were talking on the side-walk I should certainly have seen him, 
and if he had entered the house a quarter of an hour before I did, I shouldn't 
have met him on the staircase. He could have reached his room lorn.' be- 
fore." 

While viewing the affair under this new aspect, he noticed two women 
walking swiftly along side by side on the otherside of the street. One of them 
was dressed very plainly, and a thick veil concealed her features ; but all the 
same there was an air of remarkable elegance about her. Her companion 
was evidently a servant, and when she turned, perhaps intentionally, he re- 
cognised Mademoiselle de la Calprenede's maid and by induction he also 
recognised Mademoiselle Arlette herself. Where was she going ? To take 
a music or drawing lesson ? This was the thought that first occurred to 
him ; but he quickly recollected that Mademoiselle Arlette was over twenty 
and that her education had been completed eighteen months before. Then 
he remembered that he had just seen M. Matapan enter the count's apart- 
ments, and the idea that the young lady might have taken a walk to avoid 
an introduction to that gentleman occurred to him. But this supposition 
seemed too absurd to be entertained for a moment. However on reaching 
the square formed by the intersection of the Boulevard Haussmann and the 
Boulevard Malesherbes, Mademoiselle Arlette and her attendant turned to 
the left, and Doutrelaise saw them enter the church of Saint- Augustine. 
The mystery was solved now. The young girl had gone out to pray. 

He was not surprised at this, for she was very devout ; but he recollected 
having seen her on her knees in her room only a few hours before, and lie 
again said to himself that some great misfortune must be threatening her 
or hers ; that her only hope was in God, and that she only thought of im- 
ploring His aid. And Doutrelaise, who thought he had discovered the 
cause of her grief, swore that he would speedily allay it. 

He fancied that all that was necessary was a conversation with the 
brother who caused her so much anxiety, and knowing this brother was 
awaiting him at the Cafe de la Paix, he hastened there, walking with such 
swiftness that he arrived considerably in advance of the young fellow he 
expected to see. It was not yet eleven o'clock, and the establishment was 
empty. In Paris, late breakfasts are the fashion, and the waiters, who 
knew Doutrelaise, were surprised to see him appear before noon. He seated 
himself at the end of the room in a corner where one could talk without 
fear of being overheard, and while waiting for Julien, as he intended to play 
the host, he ordered a couple of dozen oysters as a sort of announcement 
of his intention. But the oysters arrived before the guest, and Doutrelaise 
had plenty of time to prepare for conversation. Twenty minutes or so had 
elapsed before Julien made his appearance. He was a tall young fellow, as 
dark as his sister was fair. He had irregular features, singularly changeful 
eyes, and a restless, nervous physiognomy, with an air of naughtiness 
that chilled one a trifle at first. This morning he was paler than usual, and 
his haggard face showed plainly enough that he had passed a sleepless 
night. When he perceived Doutrelaise he hastened towards him, and it is 
needless to say that he was most cordially received. Albert offered him 
both hands, and without giving him time to utter the slightest thanks, ex- 
claimed : "I received your letter this morning. Thank you for having 
thought of me. Consider your request granted, whatever it may be. But 
let us breakfast first ; I am famishing." 

" That isn't the case with me," murmured Julien, 



16 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" I know why, you had a late supper last night. I am very sorry for it, 
but I shall certainly quarrel with you if you don't help me in despatching 
these oysters, a cold partridge or two, and some wine that will restore your 
appetite." 

" I can refuse you nothing, my dear Doutrelaise, as you have taken the 
trouble to come here." 

" Nonsense ! I was delighted at the prospect of having your company at 
breakfast. But why didn't you call on me instead of writing ? " 

" I was obliged to go out early, and I didn't wish to disturb you." 

" You wouldn't have done so, for I slept but little last night, and I fancy 
you did not get much more rest than I did. The fact is I generally leave 
you at the club when I go home nowadays. Did the game last until the 
morning ? " 

" Probably, but I did not remain until it ended." 

" Then you must have been winning, for a man never leaves the table while 
he is losing. He desires to retrieve his misfortune, and so plays on and on." 

" That was the case with one of your friends last night." 

" Monsieur de Courtaumer, eh? I suspected as much. How much did 
he lose?" 

" About twenty -five thousand francs, I believe." 

"A nice amount," said Doutrelaise, with a slight grimace. "Court- 
aumer isn't lucky at baccarat, and he would do as well to abjure it alto- 
gether. But how did you come off, my dear fellow ? " 

"I didn't play." 

" What, have you become suddenly wise? " 

"Not exactly ; but I had no money, and — I owe a good deal." 

" Still, it is a proof of wisdom not to run a risk of increasing one's in- 
debtedness." 

" I might have done so, however, had there not been reasons which 
obliged me to abstain. " 

"Nevertheless your conduct is extremely meritorious." 

" You would not say that if you knew my reasons." 

"I don't ask them, my dear fellow ; and I repeat that I am entirely at 
your service." 

" Thank you ; but before accepting your offer, allow me to explain. It 
isn't only a pecuniary service that I want to ask of you." 

" So much the better. I and my purse are equally at your disposal." 

" This is the position in which I find myself. A person has offended, 
yes, insulted me, and I desire to challenge him." 

" I will act as your second, of course, if you desire it." 

" I expected no less of you ; but that isn't all. My opponent is also my 
creditor ; I owe him a debt of honour, and I cannot fight with him until I 
have paid him. " 

" Such a thing would certainly be contrary to all the usual rules of duel- 
ling. He would probably refuse to accept your challenge, as he would 
have a perfect right to do. But you can pay him to-day, if you like." 

" You can scarcely imagine what a service you are rendering me," mur- 
mured Julien. "Thanks to you, I shall be able to treat the scoundrel as 
he deserves." 

" How has he wronged you, and to whom do you refer ? " 

"It is a matter connected with my sister, and any reconciliation or 
arbitration is entirely out of the question. She has been spoken of in a 
manner that displeases me," 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 17 

" Then you, of course, have a perfect right to demand satisfaction, But 
who has dared — " 

" Who ? A scoundrel you know, at least by sight, for he belongs to our 
club and resides in the same house as ourselves — Anatole Bourleroy." 

"What ! that vulgar idiot ! Really, this is too much, and he deserves a 
punishment I should be only too glad to administer in person. But your 
father has certainly never done him the honour to receive him, and if he 
has ever bowed to Mademoiselle de la Calprenede, it is probably because 
he has met her going up or down the staircase. What can he have said 
about her ? " 

"Nothing against her character. If he had dared to slander her I 
should have knocked him down without any ceremony ; but he has in- 
dulged in insulting language respecting all of us — my sister, my father, and 
myself." 

"Are you sure of it ? " 

"I heard it. Last night I reached the club very late. Three or four 
gentlemen were sitting round the fire in the red room talking. Their 
backs were turned towards me, and they did not see me when I entered. 
I recognised Bourleroy's voice, however, and he was telling the others that 
my father moved last month because he had become so reduced in circum- 
stances as to be unable to pay his rent." 

" If that is all he said, his foolish tattle isn't worthy of notice," replied 
Doutrelaise, shrugging his shoulders. " Every one knows that it isn't 
true." 

" Whether it is true or not matters little. I won't allow that conceited 
fool to meddle with my affairs. Besides, he did not confine himself to 
this revelation, but added that there was a very easy way for us to extricate 
ourselves from our embarrassment, as we need only marry my sister to a 
man who was sufficiently rich and sufficiently infatuated to take her with- 
out a dowry, and he declared that this man had been found." 

" And did he mention the gentleman's name ? " inquired Albert, turning 
pale. 

" Yes; he spoke of our landlord, Monsieur Matapan. Think of the in- 
solence of this fellow Bourleroy, who dares to intimate that my father 
would be a party to any such infamous bargain — for it would be a bargain. 
Matapan is fifty, and a perfect Blue-Beard. No one knows his origin, it is 
true ; but it is evident that he is not of noble birth, and that in itself is 
enough to make the honour of an alliance with our family an impossibility — " 

Doutrelaise started. Neither was he a nobleman. 

" To pretend that the Count de la Calprenede would sacrifice his daughter 
for the sake of this old parvenu's millions is an insult to all of us, and is 
not to be tolerated for a moment," resumed Julien. 

" And yet you did tolerate it ? " 

" You know why, " replied Julien. ' ' On the night before last Bourleroy 
won six thousand francs from me at ecarM. I have lost heavily during the 
past two months, and I was obliged to ask a few days' indulgence. I was 
his debtor, and consequently obliged to be silent. I had sufficient self- 
control to leave the room. He did not suspect for a moment that I had 
heard him, or that I had been there. I returned home half frantic with 
rage, resolved to tell my father everything. Then I reflected that it was 
a matter in which I alone should act. So I went back to the club, hoping 
to find there some friend who would lend me the six thousand francs. In 
that case I intended to pay him at once, and then call him to account. 



18 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

But there was no one there to whom I could apply for such a loan, and 
Bourleroy had left, so after waiting until four o'clock, I went home again 
and wrote to you." 

"You acted wisely, my dear Julien. I will lend you the money with 
pleasure ; but allow me to give you a bit of advice ! I think Monsieur 
Bourleroy must receive a lesson ; but I think it would be unfortunate for 
Mademoiselle de la Calprenede's name to be mixed up in the quarrel in any 
way. I will devise a pretext, and if you will kindly consent, I will gladly 
take charge of the whole affair." 

" You forget, my dear sir, that this does not affect you in any way." 

" Pardon me ; I have had the honour of being your father's guest, and I 
have the greatest respect for him and for all who bear his name." 

"I don't doubt it; but you are neither a relative nor a connection. 
What right have you to avenge an insult meant for us ? " 

If Doutrelaise could have revealed what was in his heart, this rather un- 
gracious question would have received a prompt reply ; but Julien 's tone 
did not encourage him to tell the truth. " The right of a friend, since I 
have no other," he replied, without betraying how deeply the young man's 
words had wounded him, 

' ' That doesn't suffice, and I shouldn't be worthy of your friendship if I 
yielded my place to you. I am the person to challenge Bourleroy — if you 
will really do me the favour I ask of you." 

" Can you doubt it ? " inquired Doutrelaise, drawing out his pocket-book. 

"No, certainly not, since you have promised; but not here, I beg of 
you. There are some acquaintances of ours sitting not far from us." 

"As you please," rejoined Albert. " Let us drink our wine, and talk of 
something else. " 

" Certainly, and of the ladies if you like. I forgot that you were in love." 

" How do you know that ? " exclaimed Doutrelaise. 

" All your friends say so, and you blush whenever we refer to the sub- 
ject. So they must be right. " 

"That is only one of Courtaumer's jests. He cannot understand why I 
like to go to bed early. " 

" He told me at the club that he escorted you home at midnight." 

" Yes, I entered the house a moment after you." 

" What ! after me ? Why I just told you that I didn't return home 
until two o'clock. " 

" Is that really so ? " 

" At a quarter past two, to be more exact." 

" That's strange ! I thought it was you I met on the staircase. 

"In that case I should have seen you." 

" No, for the whole scene occurred in the most profound darkness." 

" Scene ? what scene ? " 

Albert thereupon proceeded to relate the episode, and his companion 
listened with the closest attention. "Yours was certainly a flattering 
conclusion so far as I am concerned," Julien exclaimed at the finish of 
the narrative. " What could have led you to suppose that I prowl about 
the staircase at night for the purpose of attacking people." 

" Simply because the man in question, instead of running after me, 
opened the door of your apartment with a key and went in." 

" Are you sure of that ? " 

"Absolutely certain ; I paused five or six steps higher up and heard the 
key turn in the lock. Naturally, I thought it was you. " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 19 

Julien'a face clouded. "Ah, well," he murmured after a pause, 
' suppose I told you that this is not the first time some one has entered my 
room at night in my absence, what would you think then 1 " 

" What would I think ? " repeated Doutrelaise. " Why, I should think 
that the object was robbery." He said this with some little hesitation. 
His companion's question seemed singular in the extreme, and he wondered 
if it were not intended to mislead him ; for he still persisted in believing that 
it was really Julien whom he had met on the staircase. 

"No, nothing whatever has been stolen from me," La Calprenede 
replied. " Still, I am almost certain that my room has been entered 
repeatedly. _ Articles which I have put in a certain place have been moved, 
furniture disarranged, and chairs overturned, as if some one had been 
moving about the room without a light in search of something — " 

" Which they have not found, as you have missed nothing. This is 
certainly very extraordinary." 

" One may truly say extraordinary, as it has occurred at least five or six 
times since we moved; that is to say, since the fifteenth of October." 

" But there is a very natural explanation, it seems to me. Your father's 
valet waits upon you as well, I suppose, and it is probable that in passing 
through your room — " 

" My father keeps no valet now, the cook does not sleep in the house, 
and my sister's maid would not venture into my room in my absence." 

"But how do you know that the intruder confined himself exclusively to 
your private apartments? " 

"Because the next room is occupied by my father, who is a very light 
sleeper. I, you know, have two rooms— my bedroom and the adjoining 
study. The intruder never goes beyond that." 

" That is the precise place where the person stopped last night." 

" How do know that ? " 

" The episode on the stairs excited my curiosity. My windows com- 
mand a view of yours ; I watched, and saw a figure pass the windows of 
your bedroom and then those of the study. I fancied the person knelt — " 

" Where ? Near the left window ? " 

"Precisely. Who told you ? " 

"No one ; but there is a small ottoman there which I have frequently 
found in a different position, and once even overturned. What occurred 
afterwards 1 " 

" I am unable to say. I was more and more firmly convinced that it was 
you, and finally I ceased to watch." 

"That's unfortunate," said Julien, thoughtfully. "You might, perhaps, 
have furnished the explanation I have been seeking for more than a 
month." Then after a moment's silence he inquired : "Do you think my 
father was in bed ? " 

" I did not see any light in his bedroom ; but I fancied the lamp was 
still burning in Mademoiselle de la Calprenede's apartment," added Dout- 
relaise, blushing a little. 

Julien again relapsed into silence. He drained a glass of claret abstrac- 
tedly, then rested his elbow on the table in the attitude of a man who is 
meditating or dreaming. Albert watched him attentively. The conversa- 
tion had not changed his opinion ; on the contrary, his suspicions had been 
converted into an absolute certainty by Julien's confession of his indebted- 
ness. He had certainly taken this necklace hoping to raise the necessary 
money to pay Bourleroy, in order to be able to challenge that young 



20 Tffl5 MATAPAN affair. 

coxcomb, who had allowed himself to speak disparagingly of Mademoiselle 
de la Calprenede. The aim excused the means. " To quiet my suspicions, 
ho has invented this story," thought Albert, " but he has probably not 
discovered that an opal is missing from the necklace, as he went to bed 
without a light, and must consequently have locked the ornament up 
without examining it. Now that he is sure of the money to pay his 
creditor, he will abandon the idea of pawning the jewel ; but the six 
thousand francs I am going to lend him will only satisfy his present 
necessities ; other wants will soon present themselves, and the same 
temptation will again assail him. The only way to prevent him from yield- 
ing to it, is to let him know that I have discovered his secret, and to let 
him understand that in case of any new misfortunes it would be advisable 
for him to apply to me instead of raising money upon an article which 
should be reverently preserved." 

While Doutrelaise was reasoning like this, Julien, who had eaten 
little or nothing, lighted a cigar, without thinking of offering one to 
his companion. He was evidently deeply troubled in mind since he thus 
forgot not only his dessert, but also the rules of good breeding. Doutre- 
laise, who was anxious to broach the important subject, and who had not 
come for the purpose of regaling himself on a sumptuous repast, refused the 
various kinds of cheese and fruit which the waiter enumerated one by one 
in the tone of a school-boy reciting his lessons, and called for coffee and 
brandy. Doutrelaise was a true Parisian, and naturally of a lively disposi- 
tion. Love had made him unusually thoughtful for several months, but he 
still knew how to talk and amuse people when he chose. So he now 
sketched the portraits of some of the most ridiculous members of the club, 
and he did this so cleverly as to succeed in diverting his companion's thoughts 
and in driving the cloud from his brow. This was precisely what he desired, 
for he wished to take the young man by surprise, and by asking him an un- 
expected question when he was off his guard to succeed in extorting a con- 
fession from him. Julien seemed likely to fall an easy prey to this scheme. 
He laughed at his companion's jokes, and after drinking a few glasses of kum- 
mel began to talk in his turn : " It is terribly wearisome to meet such absurd 
people every evening," he said, " but to see one's money pass into their 
hands is even worse. I have a great mind to cut loose from the whole set. " 

" That is an easy matter ; you have only to send in your resignation. I 
intend doing so, but I take no great credit to myself, for I no longer care 
for cards." 

" You are fortunate," replied Julien. " I have never been able to cure 
myself of my fondness for play, although lessons have not been wanting. " 

" This last has been a severe one, truly. It must be hard to find one- 
self Monsieur Anatole Bourleroy's debtor." 

" Yes, it is hard. You can scarcely imagine the agony I have endured 
for the past two days. But, fortunately, you have come to my help — very 
fortunately, for in such straits I lose my head, and become capable of 
doing anything to raise the amount I need — even of robbing some passer-by 
in the street, or of taking my father's silver to the pawnshop." 

" Nonsense, my friend, you will never succeed in convincing me that you 
would be capable of a dishonest act. But speaking of the pawnshop, I 
must show you something I have found, and upon which a pawnbroker 
would lend a very handsome amount, I think," remarked Doutrelaise, 
fumbling in his pockets. 

The moment for .striking the long contemplated blow had come. Don- 



THK MAtAPAN AFFAIR. 21 

trelaise's companion evidently suspected nothing, for he sat watching his 
movements with perfect calmness. Albeit fancied the test he had invented 
would be decisive. " What do think of this bauble, my dear fellow?" he 
asked, laying the opal on the table, and gazing at it intently. 

Julien seemed surprised, but not a whit disconcerted. His face did not 
change colour, nor did his hand tremble as he picked up the jewel to 
examine it more closely. "It is very beautiful," he replied, quietly. 
" W hat a pity that the opal brings misfortune upon its possessor, for this 
is a lovely stone." 

" Do you believe in that superstition ? " 

"Not exactly ; still I would not wear this jewel for anything in the 
world if it was presented to me. Look ! this little charm I wear at the 
end of my watch-chain cost me ten louis a couple of weeks ago, and since 
I have had it in my possession, I have lost nearly a hundred times as 
much." 

" My opal was not intended for a charm, or to be worn upon the finger, 
it is too large. But do you see nothing peculiar about it? " 

" Kothing except its brilliancy. Wait a minute — yes, it was attached 
to some other stones ; the links that united them have been broken 
recently. But of course you don't know how, as you found it." 

"Yes, I do know." 

' ' Then you must also know whom it belongs to. " 

" I thought I knew, but now I am compelled to admit that I was 
mistaken." 

" What ! you pretend to know the person who broke the necklace or 
bracelet which this jewel formed part of, but you don't know whom it 
belongs to ? " 

"Well, it was I who broke the links that connected it with the other 
jewels, unintentionally, of course. But, seriously, have you never seen this 
opal before ? " 

"Never." 

"That's strange." 

"But why? Do you take me for a jeweller?" inquired young Cal- 
prenede, laughing. 

"No ; but I fancied the necklace was yours." 

" If it had belonged to me, I should have disposed of it long ago." 

" Even if it had been bequeathed to you by your mother? " 

"In that case, I should have arranged for it to revert to my sister. 
That is precisely what I did with the diamonds my mother left. I was ten 
years old when she died, and naturally these diamonds remained in the 
hands of my father, who had charge of my property. When I became of 
age, he gave me a formal account of his stewardship ; an inventory was made, 
and by common consent we decided that Arlette should have the jewels. 
I had no use for them ; Arlette, on the contrary, can wear them when she 
marrys. " 

" That's true," said Doutrelaise, blushing. Any allusion to the marriage 
of Mademoiselle de la Calprenede always embarrassed him. 

"But lam perfectly sure," continued Julien, " that my mother's jewel 
cases did not contain a single opal. Besides, no one wears a string of these 
jewels around their neck nowadays, and if they were ever in fashion, it 
was at some far distant period, or in some country like Japan or India. 
Look at this setting, and tell me if you think you could find anything like 
it in the establishment of a Parisian jeweller. It must have been wrought 



22 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

by some skilled workmen of the far East, and may possibly have been 
stolen from the treasure house of the Mikado. I would wager a consider- 
able amount that this necklace once formed part of a collection, if it did 
not belong to some museum. Perhaps I may now be allowed to ask when, 
and under what circumstances, you severed this jewel from the ornament of 
which it formed a part. I suppose it is no secret, as you willingly showed 
me your prize. " 

Doutrelaise, completely reassured as far as Julien was concerned, thought 
it advisable to conceal nothing from his companion. " I told you of my 
midnight adventure," he said, " and how I jostled against some one on the 
staircase. As I did so, I seized something he was holding in his hand. I 
pulled with all my might, and this opal remained in my grasp." 

" This is extraordinary. But under such circumstances how could you 
for one moment suppose it was I prowling about in the dark with a valuable 
necklace in my hand ? Did you think I had stolen it ? " 

" No, certainly not. Do you wish me to tell you the truth ? " 

" It is absolutely indispensable that I should know it." 

"And you will not be offended ? " 

" You will offend me far more if you are silent." 

"But it seems to me you are a trifle angry already ; however, I presume 
we are too good friends for you to take offence at the confession I am going 
to make. I thought this necklace belonged to you or to some member of 
your family, and that, being in want of money, you had decided to try and 
pawn it." 

" You evidently have a very poor opinion of me," said young Calprenede, 
straightening himself up, " and I am not at all pleased that you should 
consider me accountable for the extraordinary goings-on in the house we 
occupy." 

" Extraordinary goings-on ! " exclaimed a bantering voice. " It strikes 
me that you are slandering my house, sir." 

Doutrelaise looked up quickly, and was astonished to see M. Matapan 
standing beside him. There was now quite a crowd in the restaurant ; 
waiters were moving briskly to and fro, and, thanks to the confusion, 
M. Matapan had approached his tenants without attracting the attention 
of either of them. They were not thinking of him, and when his loud 
voice resounded in their ears, they were both startled, though they did not 
betray their surprise in the same manner. Young Calprenede rose suddenly, 
caught up his hat, pulled it down over his ears, and imperiously ordered 
the first waiter who passed to bring him his overcoat. Doutrelaise, more 
and more astonished, glanced first at Julien, who seemed so anxious to 
depart, and then at his landlord, whose appearance was so inopportune. 
" What, Julien, are you going? " he exclaimed. 

"As you see," replied young Calprenede, drily. 

" Wait a moment, my dear fellow, and I will accompany you. I have 
something for you." 

" Never mind ; I haven't time to wait," was the response. And Julien 
having obtained possession of his overcoat, turned on his heel and made for 
the door. 

" I seem to be driving you away," sneered M. Matapan. " So much for 
being in the habit of serving notices ; all my tenants fly at my approach." 

But Julien was already nearly out of hearing, and deigned no reply when 
Doutrelaise called after him : " My dear fellow, I am at your service at 
any time, as you know. You will find me at home or at the club." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 23 

M. Matapan had witnessed this little scene with unruffled calmness, and 
it was easy to see by his smile that it had appeared exceedingly ridiculous 
to him. The millionaire was a stout man, who bore the weight of his fifty 
years with remarkable sprightliness. He stooped a trifle, it is true, but 
time had not silvered his locks, which were as black as jet, though the 
heavy beard that covered more than half of his face was beginning to turn 
grey. His eyes sparkled like live coals ; and whenever he laughed his 
parted lips disclosed long, white, pointed, wolf-like teeth. He had a pro- 
minent forehead, and a long, hooked nose ; and had he been small of 
stature, his appearance would have been grotesque ; but he had the figure 
and bearing of a dragoon, and the thought of ridiculing him never occurred 
to any one. Moreover, his intelligent and expressive face was by no means 
displeasing, being naturally gay, and at times almost congenial. 

Doutrelaise, who knew him well, could not help wondering what had 
brought him to the Cafe" de la Paix at this hour. Not the intention of 
breakfasting, evidently, for ho did not seem inclined to sit down, and 
Doutrelaise certainly felt no desire to detain him. 

Suddenly, however, for some inexplicable reason, M. Matapan's manner 
changed. He placed his hand upon the back of the chair Julien de la Cal- 
prenede had just vacated, and began to tilt it to and fro, with the undecided 
air of a man who cannot quite make up his mind whether to go or stay. 
Just then Doutrelaise perceived the opal which he had laid upon the table 
while talking with Julien, and which he had forgotten to replace in his 
pocket. His first impulse was to conceal it by covering it with his napkin, 
but such an act might arouse the curiosity, and perhaps the suspicion, of 
this keen and observant millionaire, so he concluded that it would be best 
to call for his bill, and, while waiting for it, to chat with Matapan, and 
adroitly regain possession of the jewel. 

However, the landlord now remarked : "I came here to meet some one. 
I don't see him, but I hope that he will make his appearance before long. 
Do you object to my taking the seat just vacated by Monsieur de la 
Calprenede ? " 

' ' Not at all, " replied Albert, hypocritically. 

" I won't bore you long, and I can offer you a very good cigar. Last 
year one of my friends in Havana sent me ten thousand cigars of this brand ; 
there are none like them in Paris." 

"Thanks, my dear baron," said Doutrelaise, holding out his hand for the 
fragrant weed. He intended to take advantage of this movement to secrete 
the opal, but he fancied his landlord was watching his movements, and so he 
dared not touch it. 

" What excited the wrath of your young friend ? " asked Matapan. " I 
indulged in an innocent jest on hearing his remark, and he darted off like 
a lunatic. But is he also angry with you ? I fancied he answered you 
rather crustily." 

" Oh, I don't mind that." 

" And you are quite right. This last of the Calprenedes is very childish. 
But, by the way, to what strange goings-on did he refer? I think a great 
deal of my house, and anything connected with it interests me deeply." 

It occurred to Doutrelaise that it would perhaps be better to tell the 
plain truth. He was sure now that it was not Julien whom he had met on 
the staircase, so he had no fear of compromising him by relating the 
adventure of the previous night ; besides, it might be as well to learn what 
the landlord thought of these nocturnal mysteries ; and so he described the 



24 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

incident of the night before without further scruples. The baron listened 
attentively until the story was concluded, and then said : " The person 
you met was probably some servant who was late in returning from a wine- 
shop, and who did not wish to be recognised — your own man, perhaps." 

"I think not." 

" I am sure it wasn't mine. He drinks nothing but water, and goes to 
bed as soon as I have no further need of him. By the way, where did you 
say you met the man ? " 

" On the second flight of stairs." 

" Well* my rooms are on the first floor ; Monsieur de la Calprenede, who 
only employs female servants now, occupies the second ; on the third — 
But now I think of it, the servants use the backstairs exclusively." 

" I am certain the person I met was not a servant." 

" But what became of him ? " 

" He entered the apartment on the second floor." 

" That's strange. In that case it must have been either the Count de la 
Calprenede or his son." 

" I thought at first it was the son, but he just told me that he remained 
at the club until two o'clock. " 

"Was it because you were questioning him about his habits that he was 
so angry ? — for angry he certainly was." 

" He was out of humour because he had been unlucky at play." 

" Hum ! he can lose ; but as for paying, that is a different matter. 
Where could he get the money ? " 

" That is no business of mine," replied Doutrelaise quickly. 

"Nor mine," was the rejoinder. 

Doutrelaise, while he talked, had succeeded in placing his napkin over 
(he opal which still remained upon the table. His instinct warned him 
that it would be better for Matapan not to see it, not because he still enter- 
tained any suspicions of Julien's complicity, but because he had not decided 
to divulge everything, for a poor young man who plays heavily is always 
liable to suspicion, and he did not wish Mademoiselle de la Calprenede's 
brother to be even suspected. 

Besides, M. Matapan had probably failed to notice the jewel, for he had 
not spoken of it, and he would probably have done so had he seen it. 
Albert, who se mind was now quite relieved, as he had only to slip the jewel 
into his pocket, thought it might be as well to ask the baron what he 
thought of the strange revelation which Julien had just made about the 
nocturnal intrusions into his apartment. " I think you are mistaken," he 
remarked. " It was not Julien I met last night." 

" But who else would have been likely to enter Monsieur de la Calpre- 
nede's rooms ? " 

"I don't know ; but he tells me that on several occasions he has noticed 
signs of the entrance of some mysterious visitor— furniture disarranged, for 
instance, particularly in his study." 

" All that is absurd. You say nothing has been missed from the apart- 
ment. If you told me that any one entered the count's room to steal pro- 
perty, it would be very different. In that case, the thief would soon be 
captured, I promise you, for I would at once call in the detectives ; if need 
be, I would serve as a detective myself. " 

'But, whatever Julien may say to the contrary," retorted Doutrelaise, 
forgetting his earlier resolution, "lam satisfied that the man I met last 
night had committed a theft," 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 25 

"What?" inquired M. Matapan, with an incredulous air. "I didn't 
think the count had many things of value in his possession. Oh, by the 
way, perhaps it was from him that the ornament was taken which you 
were showing his son when I came in." 

" What ornament ? " stammered Doutrelaise, blushing to his ears. 

" The one you have there under your napkin." 

Albert saw that nothing remained but to make a clean breast of the 
matter. " Ah, well ! you have guessed the truth," he muttered, uncover- 
ing the opal. " I did not want to tell you this for fear of making you feel 
uncomfortable ; but the person I met last night on your staircase was pro- 
bably a thief. This jewel formed part of a necklace which he held in his 
hand ; I wrested it from him in my struggle with him." 

"Will you allow me to examine it more closely?" inquired the baron. 
He took up the opal and looked at it very carefully. His eyes sparkled, 
and his hands trembled slightly when he laid it down again, and it seemed 
to Doutrelaise that the expression of his face had changed. " Then you 
think this opal was stolen from Monsieur de la Calprenede ? " asked 
Matapan. 

" No, nor does his son think so." 

"That matters little, after all. It has been stolen from some one, and I 
am very anxious to discover the thief. We are all interested in his detec- 
tion, for he must live in the house. I don't ask you to confide this article 
to my keeping, but you will not refuse to take care of it until this mystery 
is cleared up." 

"Certainly not." 

" I think it won't be long before I discover the owner of the necklace, 
and after that, we will see. But it is one o'clock. The gentleman I was 
expecting has not made his appearance, and I must go." Doutrelaise 
accepted his landlord's proffered hand, but made no attempt to detain him. 
He was already secretly reproaching himself for having said too much, and 
had no desire to be inveigled into disclosing more. 



III. 

In the household of the Count de la Calprenede, breakfast was no longer 
the cheerful repast that it had been in happier years when the countess had 
presided at the table opposite her husband, and between her son and 
daughter. She was dead, and most of the gaiety and happiness of the 
family seemed to have departed with her. Nevertheless, this meal was the 
pleasantest hour of the day. The father liked to meet his children at the 
breakfast-table, for he did not see them as often as he wished, as he had 
very little time to give them. Not that he held any public office, but the 
care of his fortune afforded him ample employment, for this fortune of his, 
once very considerable, had unfortunately been invested in industrial 
enterprises which had been in a precarious condition for several years. 

M. de la Calprenede was bom with two failings which marred all his 
good qualities. He had a passion for inventions, and the weakness to be- 
lieve that nature had created him expressly for the management of great 
financial undertakings. An inventor had only to apply to him to secure 
the support of his influence and purse ; and it was only necessary to refer 
to some bold project or hazardous speculation for him to offer to engage in 
it, or even assume the direction of it. And these projects and speculations 



26 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

invariably failed. Still, repeated reverses had neither damped his ar- 
dour nor humbled his pride. He still walked with his head proudly erect, 
as he had a right to do, having never failed to preserve his honour unsul- 
lied ; and he faced the future without shame or fear, ready to submit to 
ruin with the same unruffled composure that he had displayed in prosperity, 
and feeling no dread that his children would ever reproach him for having 
merely bequeathed them an untarnished name. 

His wife had been comparatively poor when he married her, so when 
Julien attained his majority, he had inherited but a small amount from his 
mother. Arlette was under twenty, so it was not yet time for her father 
to give her an account of his stewardship, which she certainly was not likely 
to demand, even when she became old enough to have a right to do so. 
She adored her father, who reciprocated her affection, and they were always 
together ; whereas Julien, who had been educated away from home, had 
early exhibited a love of independence, which did not harmonize with 
M. de la Calprenede's somewhat autocratic ideas. 

The count had changed none of his habits, and, great as was his pecun- 
iary embarrassment, his household was maintained, if not exactly upon the 
same footing, at least with the same decorum as in former years. It is true 
he held no more evening receptions, gave no more dinners, and no longer 
kept a carriage or valet ; but the service was always well ordered, and the 
establishment had an air of comfort, even though the count had moved one 
storey higher in order to lessen his expenses. M. and Madame Bourleroy 
endeavoured to console themselves for the air of superiority that pervaded 
their neighbour's establishment by telling their friends that the Calprene- 
des' furniture was mortgaged, and that the silver was finding its way, 
piece by piece, to the pawnshop. But the count and his daughter paid no 
heed to these slanders. Unfortunately, they had other and graver troubles. 

On that particular morning, M. de la Calprenede seemed even more 
gloomy than usual when he entered the dining-room. Arlette was very 
pale, and her tear-stained eyes betrayed the state of her feelings. " Have 
you been out this morning ? " the count inquired as he kissed her. 

"Yes, father, I went to church," she replied. " I was about to enter 
your room to inform you of my intention of doing so, when I discovered 
that you were not alone." 

" Monsieur Matapan honoured me with a visit. Did you meet him ? " 

"No, father." 

" Julien is not here, I see," remarked the count, frowning. 

" I think he has gone to take a fencing lesson," replied the girl timidly. 

" To set himself right, no doubt," added M. de la Calprenede, bitterly. 
" I heard him moving about all night, and I think he did not go to bed 
at all. But on the whole, I am rather glad he did not decide to breakfast 
with us this morning, for I wish to speak to you on an important matter. 
You may retire, Julia," he added, turning to the servant in attendance. 

There was a moment of embarrassing silence. The count looked search- 
ingly at Arlette, who averted her eyes. She was oppressed by a presentiment 
of approaching misfortune. " Do you know the object of Monsieur Mata- 
pan's visit ? " inquired her father, abruptly. 

" No, father, but I presume he wished to see you on business." 

" Business, yes. It was indeed a business transaction that he proposed. 
He asked for your hand in marriage." Arlette started violently. "The 
man's audacity exceeds all bounds, does it not ? The proposal he had the 
assurance to make to me is an insult. That is your opinion, I am sure of it. " 



TUB MATAPAN AFFAIR. 27 

" It is so strange that I cannot explain it," murmured Arlctte. 

" I can explain it very easily. He is rich, and I am not, and he fancies 
his millions will bridge the social gulf that separates us." 

" He does not know you, father." 

" And he knows you still less. You would not be a child of mine if you 
did not despise money." 

Arlette was silent, but it was evident that she was deeply incensed, the 
more so because she was unable to give vent to her indignation. It seemed 
to her that M. Matapan had insulted her by presenting himself as a suitor 
for her hand. " You do not ask me what I said to him in reply," continued 
the count. 

"I know it," she responded, " for I am sure we fully agree in this matter." 

" I was sure of it also, and therefore I did not consult you. I told this 
newly fledged nobleman that my daughter was not born to bear the absurd 
name he must have picked up in some geography, and I did not take the 
trouble to soften my refusal. But he had the assurance to insist, and to re- 
mind me that he was a baron 1 I laughed in his face, and speedily put an 
end to the absurd discussion. He went off furious, I suspect, though he did 
not allow me to see it ; and we are well rid of him. That I have made an 
irreconcileable enemy is equally certain, however. " 

" Fortunately, you have nothing to fear from him." 

"No, not in one sense. He certainly won't dare to declare open war. 
My honour is above any attack of his, and I am not in his power, since I 
am not his debtor. Even the very slight intercourse I have been obliged 
to have with him will speedily end, for I have decided to leave this house." 

"To leave this house?" 

"'Yes. Shall you regret to go ? " 

"Whatever you decide will be for the best, father. Only I am accus- 
tomed to the house, and there are so many associations connected with it — 
my poor mother died here." 

' ' Yes ; in the apartment below, which I was obliged to give up, and which 
that man now occupies," said the count gloomily. " It seems almost pro- 
fanation, and I have often regretted that I did not purchase this house 
when I was able to do so. I should have been spared bitter sorrow, and I 
should also have saved a part of my fortune, and have something to be- 
queath to you." 

" Poverty has no terrors for me," murmured the girl. 

" Yes, I know that yours is a noble soul, and that you would bear 
poverty without repining, but I still hope you will be spared the ordeal. 
You have been compelled to endure too much already in being subjected to 
the overtures of this fellow Matapan. He would never have ventured to 
think of you, had he not been aware of my financial embarrassment." 

" You have shown him that he did not know us." 

" My only thought now is how to protect you from the insolent preten- 
sions of others of his stamp, and I shall succeed. The present is gloomy, I 
admit ; but I rely upon the future — an immediate future, which will not 
only restore everything, but more than we have lost." 

" Ah, how fervently I pray Heaven to grant this for your and my brother's 
sake." 

' ' Especially for his. May Heaven protect my poor boy, who seems to be 
on the verge of a frightful abyss. I have almost renounced all hope of 
bringing hiin back to the right path, and I live in constant fear of learning 
that he has brought disgrace upon his name." 



28 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

"Oh, father, he may allow himself to be led into excesses, but he will 
certainly never tarnish the honour of his name." 

" If he does, I will kill him. But he is leading a life of dissipation. In 
less than two years he has squandered all the property he inherited from 
his mother, and I don't know where he obtains the means of prolonging 
this disgraceful existence. What would you say if I told you that the idea 
that he borrowed money of Matapan has occurred to me ? " 

" No. I will never believe that." 

'•Nor do I now, for if such had been the case, Monsieur Matapan would 
have revealed the fact in revenge for the reception I gave him. But let us 
cease to discuss your scapegrace of a brother, and talk of yourself, my dear 
Arlette. I see only one way to protect you from other suitors of Monsieur 
Matapan's stamp, and that is to find a husband for you, my child : in short 
to marry you." 

"Marry me ? " repeated the girl, deeply agitated. 

" Oh, not to the millions cf an adventurer or a parvenu like young Bour- 
leroy ; but to a young, intelligent and well-bred man whom you can love 
and respect. Wealth isn't an essential by any means. I shall be satisfied 
if he can assure you independence. Wealth will come by-and-bye. I will 
promise to furnish that. This is my plan. What do you think of it ? " 

" I think — I have no desire to leave you, father," Arlette replied, not a 
little embarrassed. 

" That is the usual response in such cases," exclaimed the count, gaily, 
" but I sha'n't be satisfied with it, I warn you. We must understand each 
other perfectly. Does my scheme impress you favourably, yes or no ? " 

" Really, my dear father, I can't say until I have seen the person." 

" I will soon show him to you, but in the meantime, I will describe him." 

"What! he exists — you have seen him!" exclaimed the young girl, turn- 
ing visibly paler. 

"Certainly. If I hadn't some one in view I shouldn't have spoken as I did. 
Now listen. He is thirty years old, and very prepossessing in appearance. 
His manners are perfect, and his mind and character are of a superior order. 
I don't know his exact income, but think it exceeds the amount I consider 
necessary. The only objection I have to him is that he is an idler, and 
that his conduct up to the present time has not been quite as exemplary as 
I could desire ; but you will soon bring him back to the paths of wisdom, 
and I will see that he is provided with a suitable occupation and one which 
will enrich us all. Can you guess now who it is ? " 

" I haven't the slightest idea." 

"I will help you a little. Do you know our pleasant neighbour, Monsieur 
Doutrelaise ? " 

" Is it to him you desire to marry me?" exclaimed Mademoiselle de la 
Calprenede, placing her hand upon her wildly throbbing heart. 

" What ! " cried the count, frowning. " Who spoke of such a thing as 
marrying you to that young man? What can have put the absurd idea that 1 
would consent to make my daughter a Madame Doutrelaise into your head ': 
Doutrelaise ! " he repeated, scornfully ; " a fine name indeed ! You have 
never thought of such a thing as bearing it, I hope ? " 

" No," murmured poor Arlette. " I only fancied — " 

"You certainly could not fancy that I had any idea of marrying you to 
a man who is popular enough in our set, it is true, but who does not belong 
to it. And if you had allowed me to finish instead of interrupting me you 
would have already learned the name of the person I have in view. I had 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 29 

a reason for speaking of Monsieur Doutrelaise. He knows the gentleman ; 
indeed, he is very intimate with him. They have been well-nigh insepar- 
able for a year past. Do you recollect an evening when we attended a con- 
cert in the Champs-Elysees ? " 

"Perfectly," replied Arlette, quickly. 

"We met our neighbour there. He was very polite — as he always is, for 
he is exceedingly well bred — and I was well pleased to have him take a seat 
beside us. You must recollect, too, that you had an animated conversation 
with him on the respective merits of Mozart and Gluck." 

" Monsieur Doutrelaise is an excellent musician, and, like myself, he is a 
great admirer of classical music." 

' ' You seemed to agree marvellously ; but I was unable to follow you in 
your rhapsodies, and should have been terribly bored had I not found some 
one to talk to. But, fortunately for me, Monsieur Doutrelaise was not 
alone. And he introduced one of his friends to us." 

" I have an indistinct recollection of his having done so." 

"I am surprised that you don't better remember the young man, for he 
is not one to be ignored by any means. He is remarkably distinguished in 
appearance, and I greatly enjoyed my conversation with him. But if his 
personal attractions didn't impress you, his name must have done so, for it 
is one of the oldest among the Norman nobility." 

"I don't remember it." 

" Then I will tell you. His name is Jacques de Courtaumer." 

"Yes, I remember now," stammered Arlette. " He is a relative of Ma- 
dame de Vervins, is he not ? " 

" Her nephew. It was at her house that I became acquainted with his 
worth. It was from her, too, that I gained my information about him, and 
the opinion of the marchioness has great weight with me. I would accept a 
son-in-law of her choosing with closed eyes." 

" And has she told you that Monsieur de Courtaumer wishes to marry 
me ? Why, I don't believe he has the slightest desire to marry — " 

"Ah ! it is plain that you have honoured him with more notice than you 
are willing to confess," exclaimed the count, laughing. 

"No, father; but—" 

" But his friend Doutrelaise has probably told you that he has sworn to 
remain a bachelor ; but that is one of those vows a man is not obliged to 
keep. Monsieur de Courtaumer served with honour in the navy for a dozen 
years. Not long ago he sent in his resignation, and his aunt admits he did 
it in order to come to Paris and enjoy himself. He has been doing this for 
eighteen months, but Madame de Vervins, who knows him well, declares 
that he is already growing weary of an aimless life, and that it would be 
easy for an attractive young girl to complete his conversion. She is of the 
opinion that you would suit him exactly." 

" But that is not at all probable. He scarcely knows me. I don't think 
he has ever even spoken to me. " 

" He is very reserved ; but he has spoken of you to the marchioness, and 
we know that he admires you very much. If you feel no aversion to meet- 
ing him, it will be an easy matter to give you an opportunity to become better 
acquainted with each other." 

" I will do whatever you desire, father ; but — •" 

" But it seems to me you are not anxious to see Monsieur de Courtaumer 
again." 

" I have no desire to leave you," said Arlette, lowering her eyes. 



30 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

M. de la Calprenede made a slight movement of impatience. 

" You answer as if you were still a child, though you have arrived at the 
age of discretion," he said, after a moment's silence. "Listen to me, my 
dear Arlette. The time has come for me to have a full explanation with 
you. You shall be perfectly free to refuse or accept the husband I choose 
for you. No one but yourself shall dispose of your hand ; I shall only in- 
terfere in case you make an improper choice, which will not happen. You 
know as well as I do that Mademoiselle de la Calprenede cannot marry a 
man who is not her equal in birth and education. Besides, my dear girl, 
I must inform you that I have made no overtures to Monsieur de Cour- 
taumer. There has been nothing more than an exchange of opinions be- 
tween his aunt and myself, and perhaps I should have deferred mentioning 
the subject to you, had not Monsieur Matapan's impertinent proposal re- 
minded me that I may at any moment die, leaving you alone and penniless." 

" Die ! you talk of dying ! " exclaimed the girl, making a movement as 
if to fling herself in her father's arms. 

He checked her with a gesture, and smilingly resumed : " I have no de- 
sire to do so, I assure you. I hope and expect to live to see you happy, as 
you well deserve to be, but it is my duty to prepare for any emergency. 
What would become of you if I were taken from you ? Julien's conduct is 
not of a character to indicate that he could be relied upon in case of mis- 
fortune or adversity. Oh ! don't attempt to defend him. I must wait for 
some proofs of discretion on his part before I can change my opinion. 
Under these circumstances, it is absolutely necessary that you should know 
the condition of my affairs. As I have told you, I am greatly embarrassed 
pecuniarily, and if I were obliged to-morrow to hand over to you the money 
bequeathed to you by your poor mother, I should not know where to pro- 
cure it. A great part of my fortune has been swallowed up in disastrous 
speculations. However, the rest is invested in an enterprise which will 
more than repay our losses if it is successful, but which absorbs all my re- 
sources at the present moment. It is necessary for us to economise, as you 
are well aware. I have moved in order to pay a smaller rent ; I entertain 
no more company, and I no longer take you into society. You have borne 
the change very bravely, but it Is none the less deplorable, and I won't 
conceal the fact that the husband I have chosen for you can hasten the 
consummation of my plans." 

' • What ! Monsieur de Courtaumer — " 

" Monsieur de Courtaumer is an experienced sailor, and is consequently 
possessed of knowledge which would be of great benefit to me in the 
undertaking upon which your future and mine depend. I have never told 
you how I have invested the remnants of my fortune, I believe, but it is 
time for you to know. I have purchased the cargo of a sunken vessel." 

Arlette gazed at M. de la Calprenede in utter astonishment. She had 
but little knowledge of speculations of any kind, and this seemed to her so 
strange that she wondered if her father was really in earnest. 

" This vessel," continued the count, "was laden with a large amount of 
gold : and the entire cargo now belongs to me — the only difficulty is to 
wrest it from the keeping of the sea, which is now guarding it. This is 
what I am about to attempt ; and, if I succeed, you will be rich — much 
richer even than the millionaire Matapan. Do you understand now why I 
desire Monsieur de Courtaumer's assistance ? " 

" Not very well, I admit," murmured Arlette, sadly. 

" What I " exclaimed the count ; " don't you understand that if Monsieur 



'fllE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 31 

de Courtaumer, who has been to sea for a dozen years, and who is familiar 
with the coast upon which this vessel was wrecked, will interest himself in 
my undertaking, and conduct it himself, we shall be certain of success ? " 

' ' Perhaps so ; but — " 

" You doubt his willingness. I don't. This young man is already tired 
of his idle life here in Paris, and ho is just at the age to long for daring ad- 
ventures. This will be full of charm for him, 1 am sure. Now I have 
confided my secret to you — for it is a secret— and I beg that you will guard 
it carefully. I don't wish your brother to know that I have piles of gold 
anywhere, and I have also explained the reasons that make ine desire a 
marriage between you and Monsieur de Courtaumer." 

This time Arlette summoned courage to say what she really thought. 
" Father," she began, in a firm voice, " it seems to me that Monsieur do 
Courtaumer might engage in this undertaking without marrying me. I 
must admit that I don't clearly perceive the connection between my mar- 
riage and — " 

"And submarine explorations. Certainly these projects are quite inde- 
pendent of each other, and in offering the young man an interest in the 
enterprise, I shall not make his asking your hand in marriage a condition — " 

"No, for that would seem too much like a business transaction," said 
the girl gently, " and you were indignant just now that Monsieur Matapan 
should venture to offer you his millions in exchange for — " 

" But this is quite a different thing," interrupted M. de la Calprenede. 
"Matapan is no match for you, while Courtaumer — But I repeat that 
there is to be no compulsion whatever. Have no fears, my dear child ; I 
shall not force you upon any one's acceptance, and I will only marry you 
to a man who will appreciate and eagerly crave the honour of espousing 
you." 

" That is certainly not the case with Monsieur de Courtaumer." 

" How do you know ? He has told Madame de Vervins that he thinks 
you charming. That is quite enough for the present. You young girls 
have such mistaken ideas of life. You fancy that love comes upon one like 
a thunder-clap. But these explosions occur only in romance. " 

" But did you not just tell me that I am poor. Modest as Monsieur de 
Courtaumer's fortune may be — " 

" It is nevertheless superior to yours? That is true ; so an immediate 
marriage is entirely out of the question. For the present I merely mean to 
ask Monsieur de Courtaumer if he would like to become my partner in this 
great enterprise. If he accepts, as I hope he will, he will be obliged to 
leave Paris. My vessel is not at the bottom of the Seine, neither is it at 
the end of the world. It will take a long time to conclude the work, as I 
shall only employ a small number of workmen, for I desire to avoid publicity 
as much as possible. While the work is in progress, I shall necessarily be 
brought into frequent contact with Monsieur de Courtaumer. He will call 
here often, and I shall pay frequent visits to the scene of his labours. You 
can accompany me if you like, so opportunities for meeting and becoming 
intimately acquainted with the young man will not be wanting. If he 
doesn't please you after you have had a chance to study his character, 
nothing more shall be said on the subject ; the matter will go no further ; 
and if the enterprise fails, it will also be necessary to abandon this project, 
for my last hope will have fled, and you will be too poor to aspire to a rich 
husband. But on the contrary, if we should be successful, you will have 
as much money as my partner ; at least, the difference in your fortunes 



32 THE MATAPAN APPAIE. 

will be so slight that you can become the wife of Monsieur de Courtaumer, 
without any danger of being accused of marrying him for his millions. 

Arlette breathed freely once more. The danger was not imminent ; she 
had plenty of time to avert it. A marriage dependent upon so many im- 
probable events was scarcely more than a castle in the air, so she thought 
it was useless to annoy M. de la Calprenede by refusing in advance a con- 
sent which she would probably never be called upon to give. 

"I will comply with your wishes," she replied, gently. "I think I 
shall incur no risk of forging any lasting fetters for myself by doing so," 
she added, rather mischievously. 

" We shall see : but there is no need of any further discussion. I had 
no desire to take an unfair advantage of you ; but now, you know my 
wishes. Perhaps I was unwise not to conceal my intentions. If I had not 
spoken to you about this young man, you would have found him charm- 
ing ; now, I shouldn't be surprised if you take a dislike to him merely 
because I have praised him. " 

"You must have a very poor opinion of me," said Arlette, smiling. 

" By no means ; but you wouldn't be a woman if you were not endowed 
with some spirit of contradiction. I ought to have spoken disparagingly 
of this suitor ; it would certainly have been the surest way to induce you 
to accept him. But I have praised him, and now it will be his task to 
overcome your prejudices ; and I believe he will succeed." 

"Why not, since I am by no means hard to please. Shal. I give you 
another cup of tea, father ? " 

"If you please. The lecture I have just delivered has cooled what I 
have here. You know I am rather a novice in the business — I have never 
preached except to your scapegrace brother — and I see him so rarely. 
But what is it, Julia ? I did not ring." 

"Monsieur Matapan asks if the count will do him the honour to re- 
ceive him," replied the servant, who had just entered without being 
summoned. 

" Again ? Really this is too much," muttered the count. Then he 
added aloud : " You told him that I was engaged, I suppose ? " 

" I told him that you were at breakfast, sir ; but Monsieur Matapan 
replied that he had come to make an important communication, and that 
he would wait until you had finished your repast." 

" Very well," answered M. de la Calprenede impatiently. " Show him 
into my private room. " 

When he was once more alone with his daughter, who was greatly 
troubled by this announcement of the baron's return, the count, springing 
angrily from his chair, exclaimed : " I must put an end to this fellow's in- 
trusions. As he won't acknowledge his defeat, I shall receive him in such 
l^JJJt% fr 3 w ? n '* , feel incli ned to renew his overtures. But I don't 
received » r6S *° return to the char S e after the re P ulse he 

murmured^hVgirl. ^ C ° me *° Say somethi «g about-about my brother ? " 

put i^an^intoTour 1 Tead^ Whit C »\™^ " What can have 
your brother ? " y What can he have *° say to me about 

" But, father, you yourself only a few minutes ago-" 
Uo on. Einish what you have to say " 

" You were wondering if Julien had not perhaps borrowed— 13 



THE MATAPAjn AriAIR. 33 

" Borrowed money of this man ! If he has done that, I will never see 
him again. I can forgive him anything save such a want of self-respect. 
But no ; if Monsieur Matapan was his creditor, he would not have missed 
the opportunity of telling me so when I dismissed him. He would have 
taunted me with Julien's disgrace without any scruples whatever. How- 
ever, I will go and see him. Remain here, my dear Arlette, and do not 
worry. The day has opened propitiously, since you agree to my plans con- 
cerning your future ; and it will end equally well. In a few minutes I 
will return and tell you what this barbarian wants with me." 

Arlette made no attempt to detain her father, although she did not 
regard this second visit as a favourable omen by any means, and M. de 
la Calprenede went to meet the enemy. 

The study in which his visitor was awaiting him was the room which 
separated Julien's bed-chamber from the count. The latter found M. 
Matapan standing there, hat in hand, cold but polite in manner, and 
evincing no embarrassment whatever. The count scarcely returned his 
bow, and did not even ask him to be seated. " I thought I made my 
meaning sufficiently clear this morning," he said drily. "What more 
can you have to say to me, sir ? " 

"Nothing concerning the subject of our previous conversation," re- 
sponded M. Matapan, to all appearances perfectly unruffled by this more 
than disdainful reception. "I made a very simple request; you replied 
by a perfectly explicit refusal. The question is settled." 
" Then what is the object of your present visit 1 " 

"I came in search of some information which you will, perhaps, be able 
to give me respecting a matter which concerns you as well as every other 
inmate of the house, and which affects me even more deeply. I ought to 
warn you that I am obliged to begin with a sort of examination." 
" To which I will see if it suits me to reply. Go on." 
" In the first place, I should like to know if it is true that you have sent 
away your valet 1 " 

" What difference can it make to you if I have ? Are you ridiculing 
me ? " cried the count, furiously angry. 

"Far from it, sir; and I entreat you to believe that I have serious 
reasons for asking you this question. Something occurred last night 
which I should be very glad to impute to one of your servants only." 
" I merely have female servants in my employ at present." 
" So I was informed. But perhaps the valet you dismissed abstracted 
the key of your apartment when he went away ? " 

"No, he certainly did not." . , 

"Can he have kept the key of mine, or rather of the apartment which 

you formerly occupied ? " , , , 

"No, a thousand times no! What would you have me understand 

from all this ? " T . . , 

" That some one entered your apartments last night. I do not know 
who, but I am anxious to ascertain." . . , -u. ±.\,~ ™™ 
"Why? Do you fancy you have any right to interfere with the move- 
ments of such visitors as I choose to receive ? " . , 

" No • but I have a right to know what is going on m my own home, 
and some man, who he was I am unable to say, entered my rooms while I 
was asleep last night. " 
" That is no affair of mine 

" He opened the door ; so he must have a key. 

B 



34 TUB MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" Probably ; but I am not to blame for that." 

" He must have had a key to your apartment also, for on leaving mine 
he entered yours."' 

' ' And you think it was my former valet who — " 

' ' I am by no means certain of that. I am only endeavouring to solve 
the mystery. " 

" Seek the solution elsewhere, if you please. I am not inclined to act 
the part of a detective. Besides, this story is absurd. " 

" But it is nevertheless true. The man was met on the staircase by a 
person who did not recognise him for the hall was not lighted ; still 
this person is sure that he entered your apartment. He was heard open- 
ing and closing your door." 

" Who heard him ? " 

" Monsieur Doutrelaise." 

" Why does he meddle with my affairs ? I didn't go out last evening, 
but my son is in the habit of coming in late. It was he, no doubt, re- 
turning." 

" I cannot, and will not, believe that." 

"Why, pray?" inquired the count, becoming more and more irritated. 

" Because, as I have already had the honour of telling you, the man who 
entered your apartment, first entered mine." 

" I am really very much obliged to you for not accusing my son of such 
an act." 

" I am the less inclined to do so as I was robbed." 

" Ah ! so this is the meaning of this examination? Do you venture to 
assert that I harboured a thief ? " 

" By no means. On the contrary, I am certain that you are ignorant of 
the fact that he took refuge in your apartment. But it is none the less 
certain that he did take refuge there. Monsieur Doutrelaise is ready to 
swear to it." 

" Let him swear to it, that makes no difference whatever to me. You 
are perfectly free to place any construction you like upon the affair ; but 
you certainly don't expect me to assist you in an investigation in which I 
have no interest whatever." 

"No, sir; certainly not. I shall act alone, if it becomes necessary to 
act. A necklace which I value very highly, both on account of its value, 
and also because it is an heirloom, was stolen from me last night." 

M. de la Calprenede smiled disdainfully. He had not much faith in the 
baron's ancestral pretensions. 

" The thief must have known where the necklace was, for he opened the 
drawer in which I locked it up last night before going to bed, and he 
touched no other article. He must also have been well acquainted with 
my apartment, for he went straight to the room in which I keep my valua- 
bles — the room corresponding with the one in which we are at this moment. 
He made no noise, and probably did not use a light, as he did not wake me. 
Moreover, my servant heard no sound." 

"And so you conclude that a member of my household must be the 
culprit. I have no answer to give to all this. Make a complaint, if you 
deem it advisable to do so. 1 have nothing more to say on the subject, 
and it is now time to close this conversation." 

A pause followed. The count was waiting for M. Matapan to withdraw, 
and M. Matapan showed no inclination to do so. He seemed to be absorbed 
in thought, and it was easy to see that he had more to say on the subject. 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIK. 3i> 

" So you advise me to complain to the authorities," he said slowly. " Have 
you reflected on the consequences of such a step ? They would be deplor- 
able, certainly not for me, but for some one — who is not a stranger to you." 

" In the first place, I have given you no advice whatever," was the 
count's quick reply. " It is nothing to me whether you decide to m;ike a 
complaint to the authorities or not. The matter concerns yourself alone. 
Let us end this conversation." 

" I understand perfectly well, sir," rejoined the baron with unruffled 
composure, "that you are politely turning me out of doors, and under 
other circumstances I should not give you an opportunity to repeat this 
dismissal. I should even reply to it in a manner that would render any 
further intercourse between us an impossibility, for I am not of a patient 
disposition, and I am not in the habit of tamely submitting to insult. " 

" Nor do 1 allow any one to speak to me in the tone you just now used, 
so I repeat that we had better put an immediate end to this conversation." 

" Not until you have heard all I have to say. I just had the honour of 
telling you that if I decided to make a formal complaint, it might cause 
you some annoyance to say the least, and I will now explain matters more 
clearly, solely on your account, allow me to remark. You must under- 
stand the real situation of affairs, and that is the only reason why I insist 
upon prolonging this conversation, in spite of your insulting manner and 
language." 

" Well go on, I am listening, but be as brief as possible." 

" As I have just told you, I have been robbed of a valuable necklace, 
and no one will doubt the assertion, for all my friends have seen the neck- 
lace in my possession. Last night it disappeared, and the magistrate to 
whom I shall report the theft will certainly not refuse to ferret out the 
perpetrator. He will of course subject me to an examination, and will ask 
me what I think of the moral character of the different inmates of the house. 
He will probably ask me if I suspect any one." 

" Will you dare to tell him that you regard any member of my household 
with suspicion ? " 

" No, I shall take the greatest possible care not to let him know what I 
think of the affair. In an emergency like this, the strictest reserve is a 
duty." 

" And what do you think? " exclaimed M. de la Calprenede, half frantic 
with passion. 

" You will allow me to keep my opinion to myself," was the imperturbable 
baron's response. "But on going to the magistrate with my complaint, he 
will ask me to relate the circumstances attending the theft, and I shall be 
obliged to give him all the information in my power : I should not be justi- 
fied in concealing anything from him. It will be necessary for me to tell 
him, for instance, that the man who took my necklace entered your apart- 
ment. " 

' ' You will also be obliged to prove that, and I defy you to do so, for I 
don't believe a word of that ridiculous story. " 

"Monsieur Doutrelaise will be summoned as a witness, and his testimony 
will be conclusive." 

" Conclusive in what respect ? He heard my door opened by someone, 
whom he had met on the stairs. That is no proof. And I again declare 
that this story is absurd." 

" The magistrate won't think so when Monsieur Doutrelaise tells him 
that the man who had a key to your apartment had the stolen necklace in 



36 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

his hands; and if the magistrate should still be inclined to doubt this state- 
ment Monsieur Doutrelaise can show him one of the jewels belonging to 
the necklace, an opal which he severed from the others while he was 
struggling with the thief on the stairs. " 

" Have you seen this jewel ? " 

" I did see it an hour ago on a table in a restaurant, where Monsieur 
Doutrelaise was breakfasting with one of his friends. I recognised it 
instantly, for the setting was very peculiar, being of Eastern workmanship, 
utterly unlike ours. The friend to whom Monsieur Doutrelaise had been 
showing it went away, and Monsieur Doutrelaise, on being left alone with 
me, related his midnight adventure. I did not tell him that the jewel be- 
longed to me, but confined myself to asking him to retain possession of 
it, which he promised to do. Then I hastened home, and satisfied myself 
beyond a doubt of the strange disappearance of my necklace. When I first 
called on you this morning I was ignorant of the theft, and the strange 
facts connected with it ; and when I did discover it, I felt that I ought not 
to act without warning you." 

These words were uttered in a cold and dignified manner, which could 
not fail to impress M. de la Calprenede. "I certainly appreciate the 
motive that brought you here," he said after a short interval of re- 
flection, "but I do not yet clearly understand the object of your visit. 
You wish to discover the thief, that is only natural, and I hope you will 
speedily regain possession of your jewels. But the complaint you think of 
making will result, so far as I and my household are concerned, in what ? 
In the examination of my servants, my children, and possibly myself. It 
is never an agreeable task to give one's testimony in such matters, but it is 
a duty from which nothing should be allowed to deter one. I shall submit 
to it, of course. " 

"Then you can quietly contemplate all the probable results of my 
complaint, such, for instance, as having your apartments searched by a 
commissary of police ? " 

" What do you mean, sir ? " 

" Why, it is evident that the investigation will begin with a search, and 
as the thief entered this apartment, it is not unlikely that he concealed the 
necklace here, and if by any chance he also should be discovered — " 

" He will not be found here, as you know perfectly well ; for even ad- 
mitting that my former valet robbed you and afterwards entered my room 
— which does not seem to me at all probable — he would not have left the 
necklace here. If he stole it, he did so with the intention of selling it, not 
of keeping it. He would have got rid of it as soon as possible. Besides, 
no one will think it at all likely that a servant who had been dismissed a 
month before, would return at night time to the house of the master who 
had dismissed him, to deposit the fruits of a robbery there, especially after 
what Monsieur Doutrelaise says occurred upon the staircase. The idea is 
absurd, as you yourself must admit." 

" I quite agree with you, sir, upon this point, and it is probable that no 
one will think of accusing your former valet." 

" Whom will they accuse, then?" asked the count, fixing his eyessearch- 
ingly on M. Matapan. 

That gentleman made no response, but averted his eyes. 

" .Speak," cried M. de la Calprenede, angrily. "Be courageous enough 
to explain your meaning. Is it my daughter's maid who will be 
Accused ? " 



THE MATAPAX AFFAIR. 37 

" No ; for the theft was committed by a man." 

' ' By me or my sou, then 1 " 

" You, sir, are above such a suspicion." 

" But my son is not. Is that what you mean to insinuate? " 

Again there was a pause. The count waited, greatly excited, and M. 
Matapan at last rejoined. "Magistrates nowadays always begin by in- 
quiring into the lives led by the persons more or less directly implicated in 
an affair of this kind ; and to be regarded with suspicion, it is only 
necessary to gamble and be in debt." 

"And my son is in debt, and my son gambles," said the count, quickly. 
" If he is under any pecuniary obligations to you, I — " 

" Whether he owes me money, or not, matters little. Everyone knows 
that he is in debt, and that his expenses greatly exceed his income." 

" That is no reason why he should be accused of a crime, and if anyone 
ventures to accuse him, he will clear himself, I have no fears of it. Go 
and enter your complaint. This case must be cleared up, and I don't fear 
an investigation." 

"Very well, sir ; I sincerely hope you will have no cause to regret the 
decision you have just announced. On coming here, I hoped, I confess, 
that you would understand me better, and that we might avoid a scandal 
which it is very painful to me to provoke ; and you must allow me to 
say to you, before taking leave, that I should not have called in the 
assistance of the authorities if you had received the request I made to you 
this morning in a different manner." 

"Ah!" exclaimed the count, whito with passion, "so that was your 
object in coming. I might have known that you could have only returned to 
propose some disgraceful transaction. You hoped to intimidate me by 
some story you have probably invented, and yon imagined that I would 
give you my daughter for the sake of avoiding an examination before a 
magistrate. You don't know me, sir. I laugh at your ridiculous threats, 
but even if they were serious my resolution would undergo no change. 
I would rather see my son go before the Assizes than have my daughter 
bear your name. " 

" My name is as good as any other," replied M. Matapan, coldly. "It 
is the name of an honest man. You objected to me as a son-in-law, as 
you had a perfect right to do ; but I no longer aspire to the honour of 
entering your family, so I did not come to make a bargain with you, 
but merely to learn if you desired to avoid a danger of which I felt it 
my duty to warn you. I should have liked nothing better than to hush 
up this unfortunate affair, and I hoped you would consent to question 
your son in my presence. If he is innocent, he could very easily clear 
himself ; and if he is guilty, he might make restitution. But you have 
refused to listen to reason, and instead of being grateful to me for my good 
intentions, you have treated me in a manner that leaves no alternative. I 
can do nothing now but make a complaint." 

"Do so," replied the count, pointing to the door, whereupon the baron 
bowed and departed. 

His last words were : "If any misfortune should befall you, remember, 
sir, that I did my best to avert it, but you would not listen to me." 

M. de la Calpren&de deigned no reply to this Parthian shaft. He did 
not believe for a moment that Julien was a thief, and he apprehended no 
more danger for his son than for himself. Moreover, he scarcely believed 
that the baron had any intention of implicating them in a criminal affair, 



38 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

for he suspected that M. Matapan had invented, or at least greatly exag- 
gerated, the strange story he had related. But for all that, he secretly 
cursed the misguided youth, whose excesses had furnished the foundation 
for such an accusation, and in his anger he asked himself if it was not time 
for him to cast off the son who was compromising him by such inexcusable 
conduct. " I will defend him against this man's calumnies," he muttered, 
as he paced the floor with long quick strides, " but if he refuses to re- 
form, I will compel him to leave Paris. If I don't interfere, he will end by dis- 
gracing me, and his dishonour will rebound upon my daughter and myself." 

M. de la Calprenede did not ask himself if Julien was alone to blame for 
his misconduct ; if he himself had done all that a sensible father should do 
for his child ; if he had warned him of the dangers of idleness, and given 
him correct ideas in regard to the value of money, instead of allowing him 
to squander, unhindered, the little property he had inherited from his 
mother. He did not realise that he had transmitted his own faults to his 
son ; that a passion for gambling is hereditary, and that the sin of fishing 
for gold buried in the sea is as heinous as indulgence in baccarat. 

Just as the count was sternly declaring that he would bring his son's ex- 
cesses to a speedy termination, the door gently opened and Arlette ap- 
peared. " You here ? " her father said, frowning. " I asked you to wait 
for me." 

"Yes, I know," replied Arlette, "but your interview with Monsieur 
Matapan lasted so long that I became anxious — " 

" You were right," said the count, interrupting her. "He did come to 
see me about your brother." 

" Good heavens ! has Julien indeed been so foolish as to borrow money 
from that man ? " 

" Worse than that. Matapan says he has robbed him." 

" Impossible ! " exclaimed the girl. 

" The wretch declares that such is the case." 

" Then he lies. You did not believe him, you could not. Upon what 
does he found his accusation ? What has happened ? " 

"Some one entered his room and stole an opal necklace. Last night 
Monsieur Doutrelaise, the neighbour whom you so highly appreciate, 
met a man on the staircase, in the dark, a man who afterwards 
entered our apartment, and who had the famous necklace in his hand. 
One opal was separated from the others in a kind of struggle between 
him and Monsieur Doutrelaise, and is now in the possession of the latter, 
who must be on excellent terms with our landlord, as he has made him his 
confidant." 

" And he pretends it was my brother who — " 

" He did not go quite so far as that. Matapan only ventured to insinu- 
ate that such was the case." 

"Such a suspicion is abominable, and I am sure Monsieur Doutrelaise 
does not share it. I am sure, too, that if it were necessary, he would de- 
fend Julien, who is his friend." 

" I know nothing about that, but Monsieur Matapan is going to afford 
him an opportunity, for he has gone to inform the commissary of police of 
the robbery, and repeat to him all I have just told you. He also informed 
me that we might expect a visit from the commissary, who will examine us 
all, beginning with your brother. What do you think of that ? " 

" That the absurdity of Monsieur Matapan's suspicions will be speedily 
shown." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 39 

"That is my opinion; and as the scoundrel had the audacity to insinuate 
that he would not enter a complaint if I would consent to give him your 
hand in marriage, I showed him the door." 

"What! he dared-" 

" Yes, but we shall have no further trouble. We are rid of him, and I 
await the threatened perquisition without the slightest disquietude." 

" Perquisition ? " repeated Arlette, who was not very familiar with legal 
terms. 

" That is to say, the police will come here and rummage through all our 
drawers to see if they can find Monsieur Matapan's heirloom. " 

"And you will allow that ? " 

" I shall be obliged to do so. If I offer any opposition, I shall appear in 
a very unfavourable light. Yes, my dear child, the result of Monsieur Mata- 
pan's spite and our neighbour's gossip, will be that the police will open 
your desk and mine, and even pick the locks if need be. They have often 
forced stronger doors than these," added the count, playing with the key 
in the lock of a small but richly ornamented cabinet near the window. 

The gilded key turned as he carelessly moved it to and fro, and the lid 
fell by reason of its own weight, revealing the interior of the cabinet. 
There flashing in the wintry sunlight, M. de la Calprenede beheld, in con- 
sternation, a number of jewels which he certainly had not placed there. 
He took them up. It was the opal necklace, the stolen necklace, for one 
opal was missing from the circlet. Arlette uttered a cry and fell fainting 
in the arms of the count, who threw the accursed jewels from him. 
" Julien — it was he ! The guilty wretch shall be punished as he deserves ! 
I will kill him ! " the unhappy father hissed through his set teeth. 



IV 

Jacques de Courtaumer was a careless, light-hearted fellow who had 
wasted a good deal of his life, but who regretted neither his lost time nor 
his squandered fortune. After devoting himself passionately to his chosen 
profession for several years, he one fine morning came to the conclusion that 
the career of a naval officer was not so satisfactory after all, and that he 
might do better for himself than devote twenty-five or thirty years to the 
acquisition of a captain's epaulets. Unfortunately he had, like Albert 
Doutrelaise, been an orphan from his infancy, and was perfectly indepen- 
dent, having no relatives but an aunt and elder brother. They both had 
taken a deep interest in him from his birth, but he rarely consulted them, 
although he lived on the best possible terms with them. Since leaving the 
service he had led such an extravagant life that his fortune was already 
greatly reduced, an income of twenty thousand francs having dwindled 
down to thirteen. In fact, it seemed likely to dwindle down to 
nothing. 

He thought of this prospect without the slightest perturbation, averring 
that philosophy is an unfailing consoler, and that he would have no difficulty 
whatever in acquiring wealth when his present resources were exhausted. 
Doutrelaise, who had been his chum at college and who had remained his 
faithful friend, had done his best to convince him of the danger of this 
reasoning, but Courtaumer would not listen, but rushed gaily onward to 
inevitable ruin Whenever he received a severe lesson at the gaming-table 
or elsewhere — he paused for a few days, took time to digest his loss, as he 



40 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

said ; but these pauses were never of long duration and he speedily launched 
out afresh into all sorts of folly. 

On the day the young fellow wrote to Doutrelaise, however, he 
found himself in a position which obliged him to abandon his expen- 
sive pleasures for a time, although he had sufficient money on hand 
to pay what he owed. In the first moment of excitement following 
upon an unfortunate evening at cards, he had written to Doutrelaise, 
asking him for supplies, but after a good sleep it occurred to him that his 
friend was perhaps not in funds, that he might have to put himself to some 
inconvenience to assist him, and that it was therefore not advisable to 
make this call upon his purse. 

Having come to this resolution Courtaumer went out for a walk, instead 
of waiting for Albert, whom he had asked to call between one and two. 
Jacques resided in a handsome house in the Rue de Castiglione, the 
property of his aunt, the Marchioness de Vervins. His apartments were 
not remarkable in any respect. The ceilings were low, the rooms very 
small, and the windows overlooked a rather gloomy courtyard ; but they 
had one very appreciable advantage to a fashionable young man who was 
not a millionaire. Madame de Vervins charged him no rent : in fact, had 
it been necessary, she would even have paid him to remain there, so proud 
and happy was she to be of any service to her favourite nephew. She had 
another one, Jacques's elder brother, who had married a rich wife and who 
was the father of a family, as well as a magistrate; but Jacques had always 
been her Benjamin. She liked his disposition, and excused his follies, 
while her nephew the magistrate inspired her with esteem rather than love. 
Jacques got on wonderfully well with her. He neglected her shamefully 
whenever he had any money, but she forgave his slights, and killed the 
fatted calf as soon as reverses at the card-table sent him back for a time to 
her table and drawing-room. 

The young scamp knew his aunt's weakness, and though we must do him 
the justice to say that he did not abuse it by endeavouring to extort money 
from her, he nevertheless took a mischievous delight in informing her of 
his losses, and telling her that he intended to quarter himself upon her 
until fortune again smiled upon him. On that particular day, Jacques 
concluded that it was time to pay her a visit, and so after again writing to 
Doutrelaise, telling him not to inconvenience himself in the least, lie re- 
paired to his aunt's apartments. The servants had standing orders to 
admit him at all hours, and he found his aunt having her hair put up in 
curl-papers by a maid who was almost as old as her mistress. 

Madame de Vervins was the widow of a nobleman who had served under 
Charles X., but to see and hear her, no one would have thought her sixty 
years of age, although in reality she was over seventy. She was gay and 
sprightly, like all ladies of the old regime, extremely talkative, like grand- 
mothers in general, independent in character, but at the same time every 
inch a lady. "So here you are, you owl ! " she exclaimed as soon as Jac- 
ques showed himself. " It is a bad sign when you appear in the morning. 
How much have you lost ! " 

" Enough to make it necessary for you to invite me to dinner until New 
Year's-day." 

" A large amount, then, that's evident. So much the better. I shall 
have your company the longer. But I have half a mind to starve you for 
a month to punish you. Eggs, vegetables, cream-cheese, with claret and 
water, would be a most wholesome diet for you. What do you think of it? " 



THE AfATAPAN AFFAIR. 41 

" I think the only thing that could console me for such meagre fare -would 
be the pleasure of having you opposite me at the table." 

" Well, you won't have that pleasure this evening. I am going to dine 
at your brother's, and I don't suppose you feel any inclination to be present 
at the family gathering." 

" No, his wife would scowl at me if I ventured to arrive late, and she 
would not fail to lecture me during dessert. She has a weakness for 
sermonising." 

" I will allow you to escape her remonstrances this evening, but I don't 
intend that you shall escape mine. I shall return here to tea at nine 
o'clock. I expect a gentleman friend, and I trust you will see that we are 
not left t£te-a-U : te." 

" Do you think that would be dangerous? " inquired Jacques, laughing. 

"You are an impertinent fellow. When a young man has a rich aunt, 
he ought to conciliate her ; and twitting her about her age is no way to 
win her favour." 

" Really, aunt, I assure you that you didn't understand me. You are 
still young. It is your friend that I suspect of being old." 

" Old or not, he has the poor taste to like your company, and he shall 
have it as a reward for coming to see me. You must spend the evening 
here. I will allow you to smoke, and you won't be bored, for my friend is 
a very agreeable geutleman. In fact you know him. He is the Count de la 
Calprenede. You must have already met him here, and you must know 
his son^who leads, I hear, a very dissipated life." 

" I know him slightly, but not much better than the father, and I have 
never spoken to him half a dozen times. " 

" But I think you have seen the daughter ? " 

" Yes, aunt, and she is charming, as my friend Doutrelaise also thinks." 

" Who's Doutrelaise ? " 

" Don't you remember him ? I introduced him to you on my arrival in 
Paris, and you have never given a ball without inviting him." 

"Ah, yes, I recollect now. A fair-haired young man, with very agree- 
able manners. But this isn't the question. Come, will you marry my 
friend's charming daughter ? " 

" I marry her ! " exclaimed Jacques. Do you really wish me to marry 
Mademoiselle de la Calprenede ? " 

"I do not say that," replied Madame de Vervins ; " I only ask if you 
will marry her. I have no desire to assert my authority in the matter. " 

"It is my opinion, aunt, that matrimony was not intended for me, and 
that I was not intended for matrimony." 

" You will change your mind when you have spent your last penny." 

"It will then be too late." 

"Not at all, for I shall leave you my property ; but as I shall live to be 
very old, and as you will ruh through the remainder of your fortune in 
three years at the furthest, I should like to know what you will do while 
you are waiting for your inheritance." 

" I will turn a sailor again." 

" But that's impossible, as you have resigned." 

" I'll find a position on board some merchant vessel." , f 

"A tine idea, truly I Think of a Courtaumer devoting his attention to 
cod and herring fishery 1 " 

" I shouldn't be the first one. Didn't we have an ancestor who bought 
back the family estates with the money he had made in the spice-tradc 1 " 



42 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

"That was under Francis I. Besides, he discovered I know not how 
many islands." 

" I will discover others." 

" If that's your ambition I am very glad. The count has something of a 
similar nature to propose to you." 

" What ! is your noble friend interested in the progress of geographical 
science ? I thought he devoted himself exclusively to the management of 
his fortune. People even say that he has managed it so cleverly as to lose 
the greater part of it." 

" Hush, you are a slanderer. I declare that if Mademoiselle de la Cal- 
prenede accepts you for a husband, I sha'n't even pity you." 

" I should pity her, aunt. Do I look like a man who is likely to make 
his wife happy ? I am so fond of you, that I am really capable of allowing 
myself to be guided by your wishes in this matter, so I will run away." 

" I won't detain you now, but if you fail to come this evening, I shall 
disinherit you." 

This threat did not alarm Jacques ; but he kissed his aunt on both cheeks 
and ran away like a school-boy who sees a scolding coming. 

On reaching the street, he discovered that he was hungry, and as the 
Champs-Elysees were not far off he decided to go to one of the restaurants 
there. On entering the establishment he found it full of people, and even 
perceived some well-known faces — those of persons whom one meets every- 
where, and to whom one finally falls into a habit of bowing. In one 
corner, moreover, there were four young fellows belonging to Courtaumer'a 
club, including Anatole Bourleroy, whom he did not like, and whom he 
always avoided, although he met him at the gaming table almost every 
evening. He exchanged a rather reserved bow with these gentlemen, took 
a seat at a table some distance off, in order that he might not be obliged to 
join in their conversation, and then proceeded to regale himself with some 
pdtJ de foie gras and a bottle of chablis. This interesting occupation did 
not prevent him, however, from observing his neighbours, though he gave 
little or no attention to young Bourleroy's party. The graceful Anatole bore 
a striking resemblance to a figure in a tailor's fashion-plate, and the parting 
of his carefully frizzed hair, which was exactly in the middle, greatly irritated 
Courtaumer, whose hair curled naturally, though he wore it closely clipped. 
" That parting is as broad as a garden-path," Jacques said to himself. 
" One might take a promenade there. And to think that Doutrelaise was 
advising me to marry Bourleroy's sister only last evening ! I would rather 
do anything than that." This reflection reminded him of his aunt's ad- 
vice, and he smiled to think that poor Albert little suspected that his best 
friend was being urged to supplant him in Arlette's favour. "He has 
nothing to fekr," thought Jacques. " I sha'n't do it, and this evening I shall, 
perhaps, find an opportunity to say a good word for him while I'm talking 
with his lady-love's father." 

But Jacques' thoughts were speedily turned into a different channel, for at 
the end of the room, directly opposite him, he saw a person who attracted 
his attention. This person was a man of middle age, not very tall, but 
strongly and compactly built. His thin face was smoothly shaven, and his 
tawny skin betrayed his southern origin in an unmistakeable manner. More- 
over his garments had certainly been made in a land where French fashions 
penetrated only after a lapse of ten years or more, and he wore several 
heavy rings and a watch chain as thick as a cable. In addition, he used his knife 
in conveying his food to his mouth. " He looks like a South American," 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 43 

thought Courtaumer, " and the strangest thing about it all is that I fancy I 
have seen him somewhere before." 

The stranger was eating noisily and voraciously ; but in spite of this, he 
seemed to be returning the ex-lieutenant's scrutiny, and their eyes often 
met. "He appears to take an interest in me," muttered Jacques, "and 
why, I should like to know ? Perhaps he recognises me. I can't rid my- 
self of the idea that we have met somewhere previously, though I don't 
know where. Not in a drawing-room surely." 

At this moment the stranger, having consumed all the bread that had been 
placed before him, rose to obtain a fresh supply from a neighbouring table. 
"I know now," thought Courtaumer. "He's a sailor; there is no mis- 
taking that walk. It would not be at all surprising if I had met him in 
some port or other. Is he a Frenchman ? I can't tell ; but he certainly is 
not an officer, though I have met some who were really no better bred. If 
he's a common sailor, he must be a whaler just returned from a lucky cruise, 
for he doesn't appear to mind expense. He is treating himself to a high- 
priced breakfast, and lie sports a diamond upon each little finger." 

After vainly striving to solve the mystery for some little time, Jacques 
finally came to the conclusion that he should not succeed, and being only 
moderately interested he renounced the attempt. The stranger, on his side, 
after watching Jacques rather persistently for awhile, ceased to pay any 
further attention to him, and devoted himself to the task of emptying a 
second bottle of wine. 

Courtaumer, whose hunger was now appeased, lighted a cigar, and began 
to think of something else, principally of his lost bank-notes, for the money 
he had left on the card-table the night before would have made his winter 
very pleasant, and he deeply regretted its loss. Young Bourleroy had been 
a sharer in the spoils, and Courtaumer felt an even stronger dislike 
for him than usual. M. Anatole's shrill voice grated upon the nerves of 
Jacques, who tried his best not to hear a conversation which was likely to 
irritate him still more. Nevertheless he did hear the name of young Cal- 
prenede repeated several times, and though not particularly fond of Arlette's 
brother he lost no time in swallowing his coffee for fear of overhearing some 
unpleasant or offensive remark which he might feel a foolish but perhaps 
irresistible inclination to resent. 

He now noticed for the first time that the man whom he had taken for a 
sailor had stopped short in the middle of his breakfast and had also called 
for his bill, instead of completing his gastronomic feats by the absorption 
of divers liqueurs. " What ! no rum or brandy ! " Jacques said to himself. 
"Can I have been mistaken? A sailor who has come on shore to enjoy 
himself, would not be in such a hurry to leave the table." And with the 
mobility of sentiment which was one of his greatest faults, Jacques resumed 
his scrutiny of the stranger, who did not seem to notice that any one was 
watching him, and who paid his bill without stopping to examine the items. 
" I should like to know where he is going," thought Madame de Vervins' 
versatile nephew, "but, I suppose, it would scarcely do to follow him. 
Heaven only knows where he might take me. Here he comes ; how he 
rolls as he walks ! " 

The stranger was obliged to pass Jacques to reach the door, and Court- 
aumer could scrutinize Mm at his leisure. " Ah, yes, his ears are pierced. 
A sailor unquestionably ; and it seems to me he stole a furtive glance at me. 
Bah I if he knew me, he would have spoken to me, for he doesn't appear 
timid by any means. Besides, what do I care whether he knows me or not ? 



44 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

I don't know what ails me this morning. I seem to have suddenly turned 
detective. But the stranger has gone and I'll follow his example. It is a 
good time to take advantage of the sunshine, and watch the carriages on 
their way to the Bois. I'm sure all the pretty women in Paris will be out 
to-day." 

The prospect of beholding this charming sight made him momentarily 
forget the conjectures in which he had so recently indulged, and he paid 
his bill and left the restaurant, keeping his head studiously averted from 
the corner in which M. Bourleroy was talking even more noisily than ever. 
Once outside, however, he took the same route as the stranger who had en- 
grossed his attention to such an unreasonable extent, and he could see him 
strolling leisurely along, some distance in advance. 

No more delightful weather could be desired for a promenade. The sky 
was cloudless, and a faint breeze stirred the leaves on the trees bordering 
the Champs-Elysees. Handsome equipages were only just beginning to 
make their appearance, but cabs were already numerous, conveying mothers 
and children, dressmakers enjoying a day's recreation, and clerks absent on 
leave, towards the Bois. On either side of the drive sat rows of fashionably 
clad gentlemen, watching for an opportunity to bow to some leader of 
society or the occupant of some exceptionally elegant equipage — an excel 
lent way for one to make passers-by suppose that one has a large and fashion- 
able circle of acquaintances, as it matters little whether the bow is returned 
or not. Courtaumer did not take the trouble to lift his hat to the occupants 
of any of the carriages, but he could name the owner of each of them, and 
took not a little pleasure in seeing them file by under his observing eye. 
He strolled from the Place de la Concorde to the Rond-Point and back 
three times in succession, without seeing any new face worthy of notice ; 
but on his fourth trip he observed, in a modest turn«out, a lady whom he 
did not recollect having ever seen in the Champs-Elys^es before. She was 
handsome rather than pretty, her beauty being somewhat of the Goddess 
of Liberty or Statue of the Republic order, and the carriage was doubtless 
hired by the month, for the coachman wore a showy livery but extremely 
shabby gloves. " Ah, ha ! " Courtaumer said to himself, "a frigate out on 
her first cruise. Not a bad-looking craft, but her owner has not squandered 
much of his substance on her outfit. That old rattle-trap isn't a whit 
better than a second-rate hackney-coach." The brougham of which 
Courtaumer had spoken in such disparaging terms, was moving along at a 
snail's pace, close to the pavement. The woman evidently desired to be 
seen, and seemed to be looking for someone among the crowd of spectators. 

Courtaumer, concluding that it was time to rest, now seated himself 
under a large tree, where there were several vacant chairs. He reserved 
one in addition to that which he himself occupied, thinking it possible that 
some acquaintance would appear, for he intended to remain some time, and 
hoped that chance would send him an agreeable companion. In the mean- 
time, the society of his cigar sufficed him, and he began to smoke assidu- 
ously, without thinking any more of the somewhat imposing woman who 
had engrossed his attention a moment before. He had also forgotten all 
about the supposed sailor, and was amusing himself by drawing rings in the 
sand with the tip of his cane, when, on looking up, he perceived that he 
had a neighbour — a gentleman who had stealthily taken a seat on his right 
hand, and who was none other than the very foreigner who had attracted 
his attention in the restaurant. Was his reappearance due solely to 
chance, or had he chosen his seat designedly ? The last of these supposi- 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 45 

tions seemed the more probable, and Courtaumer resolved to ascertain why 
the stranger had thus pursued him. 

The man evinced no intention of leaving, but looked down and moved 
uneasily about in his chair like an embarrassed visitor who wishes to enter 
into conversation, but does not know how to begin. This significant panto- 
mime strengthened Jacques in his determination to question the man, which 
he did in no very courteous terms. " Can it be that you take me for a 
pretty woman ? " he asked. "Just now at the restaurant you scarcely took 
your eyes off me, and now, after following me, you sit down beside me." 

" Excuse me, sir," said the man, without manifesting the slightest anger, 
"I had no intention of intruding, and should be deeply grieved to annoy 
you ; but I should not venture to accost you if — ■" 

" Then it was for the purpose of accosting me that you seated yourself 
here? You are frank, to say the least of it. Well, what do you want of me?" 

" In the first place, to tell me if you did not formerly belong to the naval 
service, and if you were not once in the China seas on a frigate called the 
'Juno.'" 

"Well, yes; what of it?" 

" I was certain it was you. I recognised you instantly, although it was 
five years ago that I met you." 

" But where did you meet me ? Were you one of the ' Juno's ' crew ? " 

"Oh, no, my commander." 

"But why do you call me 'my commander' when you never served 
under me ? Besides, five years ago I was only an ensign. " 

" That's true ; but you had command of a gunboat for six months all the 
same." 

" Stationed at the mouth of the Saigon river." 

" You~left it sometimes ? " 

" Yes, whenever Chinese pirates were reported along the coast. I have 
had more than one of them hanged." 

•' Yes, and had it not been for you I should have ended my days at the 
end of the yard-arm, although I was as innocent as a new-born babe." 

" What ! you would have been hanged but for me ? " 

" That might have been my fate, had I been obliged to deal with any 
other officer. Don't you remember having captured and burned a Chinese 
junk near Cape Tram, in the summer of '75." 

" After the crew had captured two merchantmen, and massacred all on 
board. Yes, I recollect it now — infamous scoundrels, those Chinamen, they 
killed and wounded five of my men. We took only about a dozen of them 
to Saigon — all the others were killed." 

" Oh, they fight like wild beasts, those rascals. But you must recollect 
that they had a pilot with them who did not belong to their copper-coloured 
race." 

" Yes, a sailor they had found upon one of their prizes, and whom they 
had spared because he was familiar with the coast, a vigorous fellow — I can 
see him yet." 

"You can, indeed, for he stands before you." 

" Impossible ! I should have recognised you." 

"I am greatly changed. In the first place, they had rigged me out in 
their heathenish costume. I had even a false pigtail hanging down my 
back." 

"Now I look at you closely, it does seem to me that you resemble the 
rascal. " 



46 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" Oh, I was sure you would finally recognise me," replied the ex-pilot, 
unabashed by this remark, " and now you understand why I tell you that 
you saved my life." 

"I remember now that I had a great mind to have you hanged," replied 
Courtaumer, coldly. 

" And I can't blame you, for I was acting as pilol for the pirates ; but I 
immediately began to talk to you in French. It was not strange that you 
should at first have taken me for a deserter from the naval service, or from 
some merchantman. You questioned me, I told you my story, and even 
then it was with no little difficulty that I cleared myself of suspicion. It 
was a fortunate thing for me that I had to deal with an intelligent officer, 
and I shall never forget how you had the generosity to defend me at 
Saigon before the maritime commission that tried me." 

"You have a better memory than I have. I only vaguely remember 
that you were acquitted for want of conclusive evidence ; I have no re- 
collection of defending you. I was called upon to give my testimony, and 
I told what I knew, and believed to be true. I said you had made no resist- 
ance when my men boarded the junk, and that, however improbable your 
story was, it might have a faint basis of truth." 

" Yes, it was true, and if my judges had felt any doubt on the subject 
they would have condemned me. " 

"Hum ! it seems to me the Chinamen stated that you were familiar with 
their language." 

"I speak many, or indeed, almost all languages with more or less fluency. 
I have knocked about the world a good deal." 

" They also asserted that you had joined them voluntarily. They even 
added that you had delivered up to them the vessel you had formerly 
belonged to." 

" That was false. The Chinese are inveterate liars." 

"I don't deny it. There was no one to testify against you, as all your 
companions had been disposed of, and you were released, as was only right 
under the circumstances ; but this is no reason why I should pine for your 
company." 

" I have no desire to force it upon you," replied the sailor, suddenly 
changing his tone. " I recognised you in the restaurant, and thought I 
ought to thank you, never having been able to do so before, for when I 
was set at liberty you had left Saigon. But I require nobody's help now." 

" So you have made a fortune ? " inquired Courtaumer, eyeing his com- 
panion from head to foot. 

" Yes. I engaged in the transport of Coolies to Bourbon and Maur- 
itius, and made a great deal of money in the business — enough to support 
me very handsomely in Paris." 

" So much the better for you ; but I still fail to see why you should 
desire to speak to me." 

"Merely to offer you my thanks, as I have already had the honour of 
telling you," 

" And I repeat that you have no cause for gratitude." 

" Very well, sir ; I won't insist. But do you object to my retaining the 
seat I have chosen?" 

"The Champs-Elysees belong to the public," replied Courtaumer, 
turning his back upon his persistent neighbour. He was strongly inclined 
to leave his seat, but he fancied that the intrusive fellow would make no 
further advances after the rebuff he had received, and that he would not 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 4" 

tarry long beside a gentleman who had treated him with such scant 
courtesy. 

He was mistaken. The former pilot lighted an immense cigar, and after 
drawing a few pulls, ho remarked with imperturbable composure : " You 
must excuse me, sir, I am not familiar with the customs here. I ought 
to have known, though, that in Paris, if any one wishes to speak to another 
person, he must first obtain an introduction under penalty of being con- 
sidered an adventurer ; but I thought such ceremony might bo dispensed 
with between sailors." 

"Between sailors !" repeated Courtaumer, scornfully, "In the fust 
place, I'm no longer a sailor, and even if I were — " 

" You would not belong, like me, to the merchant service, I know that ; 
but to prove that I am not a mere adventurer, I thought I would tell you 
that I have influential friends here, who can vouch for me, if necessary. I 
will mention one in particular, because ho isn't only a millionaire, but well 
known in Paris. His name is Baron Matapan ; you must have heard him 
spoken of." 

Just as Courtaumer was opening his mouth to consign Baron Matapan's 
friend to regions never mentioned in the hearing of ears polite, a hand wan 
laid on his shoulder, and, turning round, ho saw Albert Doutrelaise stand- 
ing behind him. "What 1 is it you? " he exclaimed. " You come just in 
time to rescue me from a very unpleasant position." 

"Still, this seems to me an excellent place from which to watch the 
drive." 

" Yes, the place is good enough ; but I am going to leave it. I don't 
fancy my neighbours. Come, let us take a turn." And without even 
honouring the troublesome pilot with a glance, Courtaumer rose, took his 
friend's arm, and dragged him away with such energy that he overturned 
his chair. 

This time the persistent foreigner must have acknowledged his defeat, for 
he made no attempt to follow them. He had scrutinized Doutrelaise closely, 
but that was all, and with a shrug of the shoulders he now turned to watch 
the carriages filing by. "Who is that peculiar-looking person who was 
speaking about my landlord ? " inquired Doutrelaise. 

" Ah, that's true ! the house you live in belongs to Matapan ! " ex- 
claimed Jacques. " I had forgotten the fact, although you told me so only 
yesterday, but how on earth he happens to have any acquaintance with the 
scoundrel you have just seen, and who has been pestering me with his. 
attentions for half-an-hour, is more than I can understand." 

" But how do you happen to know him ? His acquaintance with Mata- 
pan is nothing extraordinary — it strikes me they would be rather congenial, 
but you don't belong to their set." 

" Strange things happen every day, my friend. This scoundrel was a 
sailor when I met him in Cochin-China, five years ago. I captured a Chinese 
junk, manned by pirates, and he was on board acting as pilot. My first 
impulse was to have him hanged ; but, naturally enough, he objected to 
being disposed of in that way. He pretended that he had been taken 
prisoner by the pig-tails, who had only spared his life on condition that he 
would serve as pilot. I was good-natured enough to listen to his story, and 
to take him to Saigon, where I handed him over to the authorities, who 
finally released him for want of any conclusive evidence against him." 

"And where did you meet him this morning? " 

"At the Cafe" des Ambrwsadcurs, where he was breakfasting like a 



48 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

prince. When I left he came and seated himself beside me under the tree 
where you found me. He had the assurance to remind me of his adventure, 
under the pretext of thanking me for having saved him from the hanging 
which, I am sure, he richly deserved." 

" But why did he speak of Monsieur Matapan ? " 

" To show me that he had influential acquaintances in Paris. He pre- 
tends that your landlord is an intimate friend of his." 

" That is very strange. Do you know this man's name ? " 

" I must have known it years ago, but I have forgotten it now, and I 
assure you I did not ask him it. If you are so inclined, it will be easy for 
you to learn it by questioning Matapan." 

"I shall do nothing of the kind," replied Doutrelaise quickly. "But 
pray explain how you happened to breakfast in the Champs-Elys6es when 
you must have been expecting me to call on you, for I have just been to 
your rooms." 

" Then you did not receive my second note ? " 

"No, I went out at eleven o'clock, and the first letter informed me so 
explicitly that I mustn't lose a moment in extricating you from your 
trouble, that I was anxious to keep my appointment." 

"In that I recognize you. The race of friends like yourself is rapidly 
becoming extinct." 

" Bah ! there's no great merit in obl : ging you. You are the best pay I 
know. How much do you want ? Feel no hesitation about naming the 
amount. I know it must be large, for I have seen some one who was at the 
club last night, and who told me that you had lost at least twenty-five 
thousand francs." 

" Twenty- five thousand six hundred is the exact amount. Your infor- 
mant was well posted. I'll bet that it was your neighbour, Anatole 
Bourleroy." 

"You are greatly mistaken. I shun him as I would the plague, and 
whenever I am unfortunate enough to meet him, I invariably avoid speak- 
ing to him if possible. This morning he came in just as I was going out, 
and I scarcely bowed to him." 

" I also met him this morning, breakfasting at the Ambassadeurs — with 
the money he won probably, and I cut him. But about the loan I thought 
of asking of you — I have reflected, and decided to do without it. I owe 
nothing, and economy will soon bring me safely out of my difficulties, so 
keep your money for greater need, my old fellow." 

"That will present itself, I don't doubt," was Doutrelaise's laughing 
response. " I don't think your wisdom will be of long duration. Besides, 
you are not the only young man who needs money. Only this morning — " 

"Look at the brougham that is just passing," Courtaumer interrupted, 
pressing his companion's arm. " That's a new recruit, my dear fellow, a 
pretty girl I have never seen before, and whom I had just discovered as 
you came up." 

" That brunette with a sealskin cap ? " 

"Yes, the one who is nodding and smiling at a gentleman whom I can 
scarcely see behind that large tree. " 

"Oh, yes, I see. No; her face is not strange to me. She looks very 
like — Upon my word, it's Lelia, the majestic Lelia." 

"And who, pray, is Lelia?" 

"Lelia Marcbefroid, the daughter of the doorkeeper of the house I 
live in." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 40 

"I recollect now. You told me her respected father destined her for 
the stage. She will make her way there. She has secured an admirer 
already. Look, he is turning to smile upon her. He wears gold spectacles 
like the illustrious Prudhomme — " 

"The farce is complete," exclaimed Doutrelaise. " That gentleman is 
none other than Monsieur Bourleroy, senior." 

" What ! — the druggist you had the impertinence to propose to me as a 
father-in-law?" 

" The same, my dear friend. His daughter Herminie will have a dowry 
of half a million at least." 

"If her wicked father doesn't squander his substance in the society of 
debutantes." 

" Impossible ! he's too stingy to do that. But now that I'm posted in 
regard to his conduct and the morality of Monsieur Matapan's doorkeeper, 
if they take it into their heads to do me or any of my friends an injury, I 
have them in my power." 

" But look ! Mademoiselle Lelia has seen us. She is drawing back into her 
carriage, and the horse is quickening his pace. Bourleroy must also have 
perceived us, for he is moving away. Let us turn back, my good fellow ; 
I have had enough of the Bourleroys," said Courtaumer, taking the arm of 
his friend who very willingly acceded to the request. 

They walked on for some time in silence. Courtaumer was not yet con- 
soled for his losses, and his gloominess was increased by the thought of the 
tiresome evening he was to spend at his aunt's. Doutrelaise on his side was 
still engrossed with the strange adventure of the previous night, and he 
was wondering if he should not relate the whole affair to the friend he 
usually consulted in all his difficulties. " You seem to have met a number 
of people this morning," he remarked, after a long silence. " Did you 
happen to run against Julien de la Calprenede anywhere?" 

"Julien de la Calprenede?" repeated Courtaumer. "No; I haven't 
seen him to-day." 

"Did you see him at the club last night ? " 

" Yes, I believe ho was there. But I was so busy with the game that I 
did not notice him particularly, still it does seem to me I saw him hanging 
around the baccarat table like a famished person hangs outside a baker's 
shop. He must be terribly hard up." 

' ' I am afraid so. But tell me, was he at the club when you arrived 
there ? You went straight to the club on leaving me, didn't you ? " 

"Yes, and almost on the run ; I fancied I should be lucky last night. 
It was a delusion that cost me dear. " 

" And was young Calprenede there before you ? " 

" No ; he didn't come in until some time afterwards, at least, I think 
not, for I did not see him on arriving. But why do you ask me all these 
questions ? " 

" Because the poor fellow wrote to ask a favour of me this morning." 

" Money, I suppose ? " 

" Yes, he has lost — but not so much as you of course." 

" If he had, I don't think there would be much hope for his creditors." 

" He has but one, but it would be much better for him if he had a dozen like 
yourself. Unfortunately, he owes Monsieur Bourleroy six thousand francs. " 

" Lelia's admirer 1 " 

" No ; the father doesn't play. It was the son who won it from him at 
icarti, on credit of course." 



50 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" Then I pity your young friend. Everybody will know that he doesn't 
pay his debts. Anatole will proclaim the fact from the housetops. I would 
wager anything that he was telling his friends of it at breakfast this 
morning." 

" I only wish I had been there," muttered Doutrelaise. 

" So that you could have pulled his ears, eh ? I shouldn't have minded 
doing so myself, but I had no right to undertake the defence of a young 
fellow I scarcely knew. Besides, Bourleroy will soon be obliged to hold 
his tongue, as he will get his money ; for I know you. You have already 
lent young Calprenede the six thousand francs no doubt. " 

" No, but I was about to do so when Julien, who was breakfasting with 
me at the Cafe' de la Paix, abruptly went off." 

" Without accepting the money ? He must be mad ! " 

"No; I think he didn't wish to receive it in the presence of Monsieur 
Matapan, who had just come in and who seated himself beside me 
without asking permission to do so." 

" Just as my pirate did beside me a moment ago. I'm not surprised at 
their friendship. One seems as ill bred as the other. But I know why 
Julien hurried off. Matapan must have lent him some coin which he can't 
repay." 

" The same thought occurred to me, and as soon as Matapan took him- 
self off, I ran after Julien ; but although I went to the club and sent to his 
father's house, he was nowhere to be found." 

" Bah, he will turn up again all right." 

"I fear his mind is scarcely right. His situation is so compromising 
that—" 

" That you fancy he has thrown himself in the Seine, and all for some 
trifling debts his father will pay sooner or later. Nonsense ! I don't 
believe that. If he had committed any disgraceful action, it would be 
entirely different ; but that is impossible. He bears a name that would 
prevent that. " 

Doutrelaise made no reply. Courtaumer had unconsciously placed his 
finger on the wound. However Doutrelaise hesitated to relate the history 
of the necklace. Had he any right to consult his friend in a matter affect- 
ing Julien's honour? He was already almost sorry that he had said so 
much : Courtaumer was not M. Matapan certainly, but Courtaumer was not 
always discreet. 

" You seem to take a great interest in this hare-brained fellow," Jacques 
remarked. " I didn't know you were so intimate with him." 

"Intimate isn't the word, but — " 

" Come, confess that it is on the sister's account." 

" I have already begged you to say no more on that subject. Made- 
moiselle de la Calprenede is not the cause of it, and yet you persist in 
harping upon that theme." 

" I have a reason, and a very good reason, for referring to the subject 
to-day." 

" What is that ? " inquired Doutrelaise, greatly astonished. 

" Would you like to know ? Then prepare to be surprised. My aunt 
has taken it into her head to marry me to that young lady. Ah ! you are 
turning green with jealousy. So I was right, you do love her." 

" You marry her ! Why, you scarcely know her." 

" That doesn't matter. Answer me now, truthfully, do you love her or 
not ? " 



TIIE MATATAN AFFAIR. , r > 1 

" And if I say that I don't, shall yon marry her ? " 

" If you tell me that you don't, I cannot say what I shall do ; but if you 
answer in the affirmative, I nhall tell my aunt that nothing will induce me 
to interfere with the hopes of my best friend." 

" And I forbid you to mention my name in this affair," was Albert's 
quick response. " No one suspects that Mademoiselle de la Calprenede 
has inspired me with a sentiment which — " 

'• Well, you have made a confession at last, and you are quite right, for 
I might have indulged in a flirtation with Mademoiselle Arlette who is 
very charming. Now, however you need have no fears, I will not even 
look at her, at least, not until she is Madame Doutrelaise, for I intend 
you to marry her, and you shall do so. I will do all I can to brins it 
about." b 

"But you can do nothing." 

" How do you know ? The father is the friend of my aunt Madame de 
Vervins, who is an excellent woman. I will persuade her to plead your 
cause." 

" No, Jacques, pray don't speak of me to her. You would only do me 
an injury by trying to serve me. Later on perhaps— but the time has not 
yet come." 

" Well, I will content myself with leaving the coast clear then. You 
can depend upon it that I shall inform my aunt this evening of my firm 
resolve to remain a bachelor to the end of my days. And now that this ques- 
tion is settled, shall we make the tour of the Bois and return to the club 
in time for dinner ? " 

"No, I have some business to see to. I am compelled to leave you now." 

" To run after your future brother-in-law ? " 

" Jacques, you are incorrigible." 

" Well, well, start off, my dear fellow, in pursuit of this strange Julien 
who runs away when one wishes to do him a favour. I shall soon see you 
again, and if I find Julien — " 

" In that case please tell him that I am looking for him." 

" Not another word. Here comes his father, the Count de la Calprenede 
in person. He is coming straight towards us. He has seen us already 
and there is no way to avoid him. Besides, I am not sorry to know what 
he has to say to us." The count was indeed approaching with a hurried 
step. "He doesn't appear to be in a very good humour," muttered 
Courtaumer. " Can he have heard of any new escapade on the part of 
his son ? " 

Doutrelaise saw very plainly that there was a heavy frown on M. de la 
Calprenede's brow, and he felt strongly inclined to make his escape. Had 
he known that the count was thinking of him at that very moment, he 
would certainly have run off at the top of his speed ; but he knew of no 
reason why he should reproach himself, and so he resolved to make the 
best of it, and stand his ground. Formal bows were exchanged, and then 
M. de la Calprenede, entirely ignoring Doutrelaise, offered his hand to 
Courtaumer, and said : "I am glad to meet you, sir, and I should like to 
speak to you a moment alone." He drew him a little aside as he spoke, 
and then added abruptly: "My son belongs to your club, doesn't he? 
Yes ? Very well ; if you should meet him there this evening, I should 
be greatly obliged if you would inform me of it. I fear he will not return 
home until late, and it is absolutely necessary for me to see him at the 
earliest possible moment. I shall be at Madame de Vervins' between nine 



52 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

and eleven, and shall afterwards return home to the Boulevard Hauss- 
mann. " 

" Depend upon me, count," replied Courtaumer. " I have promised my 
aunt—" But he did not finish his sentence, for the count was already- 
some distance off. Courtaumer then turned to rejoin Doutrelaise, but he 
also had disappeared. " Upon my word of honour ! every one seems to 
have gone mad!" Jacques exclaimed. "And I begin to believe that 
Monsieur Julien must be involved in some disgraceful affair. So much the 
worse for him ! Albert is really very kind to lend him a helping hand, for 
to judge by the manner in which the father just treated him, there isn't 
much chance of his marrying the daughter." 

V. 

The Louis XIV. clock, on the mantel-shelf in Madame de Vervins' drawing- 
room, was just striking nine. As punctual as the great monarch himself, 
the marchioness had already installed herself in her favourite arm-chair, 
beside the fire-place in which a bright fire was blazing. Tea had been 
brought in, after the old style, a tea-pot of Sevres china doing duty for a 
Russian samovar, for the noble lady did not approve of modern innovations. 
She was attired in the style which had been in vogue in her youth, with a few 
sacrifices to the tastes of the day — just enough to prevent her from appear- 
ing ridiculous — and she still wore her hah. in long curls, thus displaying 
her beautiful snow-white locks to great advantage. Old she might be, and 
yet she was a very sprightly, agreeable, and active hostess. Her grey eyes 
sparkled with fun, and many a brilliant witticism came from her thin lips. 
She saw everything, read everything, and knew everything, and yet no 
shade of malice ever marred her charming gaiety. Jacques could truth- 
fully say : " My aunt is a paragon." 

On this particular evening her face wore an expression of importance, 
and her manner was rather more brusque than usual. " My nephew has 
not come ? " she inquired of the old servant, attired in black, who was 
engaged in arranging the cups and saucers upon the tea-tray. 

" Not yet, madame," replied the man, who had been in the service of 
the family at least fifty years. 

"You will admit no one except him and the Count de la Calprenede." 

"Very well, madame," replied the old servant. 

" Have you lighted the fire in the library, Francois ? " the marchioness 
next asked. ' ' Monsieur Jacques cannot exist for three hours without 
smoking, and I don't wish him to stifle me here." 

" Monsieur will find a box of cigars on the mantel-shelf." 

"Of the brand he likes?" 

•' I bought them from the steward of his club." 
_ " Very well ; you may retire. But when the count comes, don't announce 
him too loud. For some time past you have had a habit of shouting out 
the names as if you were the usher of a republican minister. " 

Francois went out without uttering any protest, although he was strongly 
tempted to do so. He shared the political sentiments of his mistress, and 
the comparison wounded him deeply. The marchioness, thus left alone, 
fell into a doze, according to her habit after dinner ; but she did not sleep 
like a common-place mortal who has partaken too freely of truffles. Hers 
was a light, refined slumber, which did not prevent her from meditating, 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 53 

and she usually thought of her favourite nephew, especially whenever he 
had caused her any fresh anxiety. And this was the case now. " If I 
don't interfere, the boy will certainly ruin himself," she ruminated, half 
closing her eyes. "He is as thoughtless as a linnet, and he laughs at 
poverty as I laugh at a cold iu the head. He talks of entering the merchant 
service with appalling indifference, and he is quite capable of doing as he 
says. His father was as thoughtless as himself, and as badly reared ; but, 
after all, I like his disposition far better than that of his prudent and 
sagacious brother." 

With this consoling reflection she closed her eyes altogether and fell into 
a sound sleep, though it did not last for long. A nap of a quarter of an 
hour sufficed her. On waking up she promptly resumed the thread of her 
discourse. " Such folly can be cured only by marriage,'' she murmured ; 
" so he must marry, and immediately. One of these fine mornings I may 
awake in another world, and then who would select a proper wife for him? 
Fortunately I have one all ready. Arlette is the best girl I know, and as 
pretty as heart could desire. A trifle sad, perhaps, and a little inclined to 
be sentimental. But she will soon get over that. I am going to have a 
plain talk with my old friend Calprenede this evening. Jacques suits him, 
and we will manage to overcome the young fellow's objections without 
much difficulty, I'm sure of it. Hum 1 I believe the dear count is a ruined 
man ; but I know him, and I'm sure that he is not actuated by mercenary 
motives in wishing to bring about a marriage between Jacques and his 
daughter. He is proud as Artaban, and if I ventured to allude to what I 
mean to do for my nephew, he would very likely take offence." 

The marchioness had proceeded thus far in her soliloquy, when Francois 
announced, " Monsieur le Comte de la Calprenede." 

"You are welcome, my friend," said Madame de Vervins. "Your 
coming is most opportune. I was almost falling asleep. I am even afraid 
that I have had a short nap. See what it is to be old. Do you remember 
the time when I waltzed till daylight? No, you were not waltzing in those 
days. I always forget that you are twenty years younger than myself." 

The count pressed the hand that Madame de Vervins extended to him ; 
but she exclaimed : " Fi ! where did you pick up these English manners ? 
My hand is still white enough to kiss, I hope. In former years, my dear 
friend, you didn't omit doing so." 

M. de la Calprenede thereupon acquitted himself of this obeisance with- 
out the slightest embarrassment. Brought up in a circle where women were 
always treated with chivalrous deference, he had not yet forgotten the 
charming customs of the past ; but no smile appeared upon his lips, and he 
seated himself in an arm-chair near by, without uttering a word. 

" I opened the siege this morning, my dear friend," began the 
marchioness. " Jacques did not surrender at the first shot ; but if we 
manoeuvre skilfully, I am sure that he will finally capitulate. But I think 
it will be necessary for our dear Arlette to help us a little. 

" Oh, not now," continued Madame de Vervins, as she saw the count 
shake his head. "We have not yet gone beyond the preliminaries, and 
Jacques is as unmanageable as a frisky young colt. If I proposed a formal 
presentation to your daughter, he would run off without a moment's warn- 
ing. But we must employ the old methods, which are perhaps the best, 
after all. We will arrange to have them meet as if by chance. They might 
do so at the theatre, in a box at the opera, or the Francais ; but theatre- 
going is an amusement scarcely suited for a woman of my years. On the 



5* THE MATArAN AFFAIR. 

other hand, you have not entertained at all for a year or so ; and, by the 
way, may I be allowed to ask how your business affairs are progressing ?" 
" Matters remain unchanged," was the count's rather gloomy reply. 
" They will result all right by-and-bye, but I hope you will engage in no 
more business enterprises. You are not particularly adapted to enriching 
yourself in such pursuits, and I am sorry you ever engaged in them. 
But to return to our great scheme. What if I gave a ball ? No ; that 
would not do ; it is fifteen years since there was any dancing here. Jacques 
would mistrust me at once. A musical evening would be better, perhaps. 
What do you think ? No response ? You certainly are not at all like your- 
self this evening. What has happened ? You certainly can have nothing 
to conceal from an old friend like me." 

" No, nothing," replied M. de la Calprenede, with a visible effort, "for 
I came to confide my troubles to you, and ask your advice." 

" I am entirely at your service. What has happened ? " 

M. de la Calprenede hesitated for a moment, and then hastily, like a 
man who wishes to prevent the possibility of reconsidering his resolve, he 
began : " Marchioness, what would you do if you had a son, and that son 
was a thief ? " 

" My dear friend," Madame de Vervins quickly replied, "you must allow 
me to say that yours is an absurd supposition. If I had a son, he might be 
guilty of many an act of folly, like my nephew Jacques, but commit a base 
act — no, a thousand times, no 1 I am a Courtaumer, as you are a Calpre- 
nede ; and when a man bears a name like ours, he does not dishonour it. 
He squanders his fortune, perhaps," she added, smiling, "and that is quite 
bad enough." 

" I have done that," said the count bitterly ; " but my son has done far 
worse. He has disgraced himself." 

" Julien ? Impossible ! " 

" He has. He has committed a theft." 

"Poor boy! Really, I am astounded. How did it happen ? Explain, 
Robert, I entreat you; I do not understand." M. de la Calprenede re- 
mained silent. He was weeping. " It was at the gaming-table, was it 
not ? " continued the marchioness, deeply moved. " It was there, in a mo- 
ment of madness — oh, how terrible ! And this is what the frequentation 
of those gambling dens called clubs, leads to ! And Jacques spends his 
whole time there ! If he ever sets foot there again, I'll cut him off without 
a shilling ! " 

" You are mistaken, marchioness," said the count, repressing his tears. 
"Julien has not cheated at cards. He has stolen, I tell you, stolen like 
men who are sent to the galleys. He entered an apartment last night by 
means of a false key, and abstracted a necklace of great value. Do you 
understand now ? " 

" A necklace ? My God ! what use could he turn it to ? Oh ! I know 
—to give to some girl whom he is infatuated with. The wretched creatures ! 
Before the Revolution we could at least shut them up in a reformatory 
when they ruined our children, but now we can do nothing— liberty is a 
fine thing 1 " s J 

" You are again mistaken. He has not even the excuse of passion. He 
took this necklace to pawn or sell it. He owes money, and wished to pay 
it* 

"Gambling debts, no doubt. But the poor fellow must have lost his 
senses. Why didn't he apply to my nephew ? He would have lent him all 



TIIE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 55 

the money he wanted. But your son is proud ; he was unwilling to humili 
ate himself by borrowing." 

" He preferred to steal ! " said M. de la Calprenede, in a tone which sent 
a thrill through the marchioness's heart. 

" Steal I steal ! " she exclaimed ; " that frightful word is the only one 
you seem able to utter ; but in spite of what you say, Robert, I can't believe 
that your son has been guilty of such baseness. I don't know him well, 
for he has not often done me the honour of calling upon mo. He is like all 
young men of the present day — sadly deficient in respect and politeness. 
But I have met him, and I am an adept in reading character. His is an ar- 
dent, indomitable, restless, and daring nature, but he is neither a rascal nor 
a coward." 

" I once thought as you do," muttered the unhappy father. 

"Have you any proof to the contrary? Are you sure he is guilty? 
And in the first place, who is his accuser ? " 

"A man whom I hate and despise — the owner of the house in which I 
live. He is called, or calls himself, Baron Matapan." 

" He is married, then ? " 

" No : he pretends that this necklace is a family heirloom." 

" That's a mere invention. No man of any position is named Matapan." 

•' He is very rich, and has a fondness for collecting jewels." 

" That may be. I don't deny that the necklace may belong to him. 
What leads him to suspect Julien ? '' 

" An incident which occurred in the house last night, and with which 
Monsieur Doutrelaise, a fellow-tenant, acquainted him." 

" Doutrelaise ? Why, he has often been a guest at my house. I have 
frequently invited him, to please my nephew, who is very intimate with 
him. He was singing his praises to me no later than this morning. Ah, 
well, what did this gentleman see ? " 

" He saw nothing ; it was dark at the time, but he heard a man leave 
Monsieur Matapan's apartment and enter mine." 

" And it is upon such proofs as these that Matapan bases his accusation ! 
Bah ! this is absurd." 

" I told him so when he ventured to make it in my presence, and then 
turned him out of my rooms, all the more eagerly as he had the audacious 
insolence to propose that I should purchase his silence by giving him my 
daughter, for he wishes to marry her." 

"Such audacity is simply absurd. Arlette is not for a man like him. 
But why do you persist in asserting that your son is guilty of the crime 
with which he is charged ? " 

" Why, this morning, after showing Monsieur Matapan to the door, I 
found the necklace that had been stolen from him," replied the count, in a 
tone of profound dejection. "Yes, I found it in the study adjoining 
Julien 's bed-chamber." 

" Oh ! " murmured the marchioness, clasping her hands. 

"Yes ; the unfortunate boy had placed it in a cabinet there, but had ne- 
glected to take away the key." 

' ' That's incomprehensible. But had you previously seen this necklace, 
as you were able to identify it as the one stolen from Monsieur Matapan? " 

" He had described it to me. I knew it was composed of large opals, sur- 
rounded by tiny diamonds." 

" Indeed ! but what did your son say when you made this discovery ? 

"He was not there ; but, unluckily, Arlette was." 



56 THE MATAFAN AFFAIR. 

" Poor child ! And how did she bear such a terrible shock ? " 
" She swooned in my arms, and I left her in a pitiable state. If she dies, 
her brother will have killed her." 

There was a silence. Madame de Vervins seemed engrossed in thought. 
" My Mend," she said, after some moments had elapsed, " I understand 
your grief and anger now. Your son has been afflicted with an attack of 
madness; but such maladies must be subjected to heroic treatment. What 
do you intend to do 1 And in the first place what has become of this 
fatal necklace ? " 

" Here it is," replied M. de la Calprenede after a moment's hesitation. 

The marchioness took it and examined it with mingled curiosity and 
loathing. It seemed to her that the jewels would burn her fingers if they 
came in contact with them. " It is strange,'' she muttered, examining 
them more closely, "but it seems to me I have seen this ornament some- 
where before." 

" Where ? " inquired M. de la Calprenede, eagerly. 

" Really, I don't know ; but on examining that peculiar setting. I was 
vaguely reminded of my infancy. It seemed to me this was not the first 
time those opals had sparkled before my eyes. But I may be mistaken, 
the recollection is at best greatly confused, and it matters little after all. 
Let us return to the discussion of more important matters. You told me 
just now, that your son was not at home when you made this unfortunate 
discovery : but haven't you seen him since the morning ? " 

"No," replied M. de la Calprenede, shaking his head. "I have been 
looking for him all day without being able to find him. I have been twice 
to his club, but he was not to be found." 

" But he was there last night, was he not ? " 

" I suppose so ; he must have returned there after concealing the neck- 
lace." 

' ' Very ineffectually and carelessly ; for he did not even take the key 
from the cabinet, in which he had placed the jewels." 

" Yes," replied the count, bitterly, " he has not yet learned to take fit- 
ting precautions. He is a bungling thief, as yet." 

"Thief! I cannot bear the word," replied the marchioness. "You 
really should not condemn him without a hearing, and he will certainly re- 
turn to the house." 

" For the jewels he has left there ? I don't doubt it. He will probably 
return at an hour when he expects to find us all asleep ; but I shall be 
watching for him. If he returns before I do, I shall be immediately ap- 
prised of the fact, for I have given Arlette's maid orders to send for me ; 
and if he goes to the club while I'm here, Monsieur de Courtaumer, whom 
I met in the Champs-Elys^es, has promised to inform me without delay." 

" Jacques ? How does he happen to be mixed up in the affair ? " 

" I asked him to do me this favour, but he is quite ignorant of what has 
occurred." 

" So you may be obliged to leave me at any moment to join your son ? 
You are right, my friend, and you must come to a decision before leaving 
here. But what if the poor boy has killed himself in a fit of despairing re- 
morse ! " 

" You judge him too favourably. He has fallen too low to have the 
necessary courage for such an act. If he had intended to put an end to his 
life he would have destroyed the proofs of his guilt ? " 

' ' Why ? I do not see that. " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 57 

"Since he hid the necklace, he intended to make use of it." 

" If he intended to sell it, you must confess it would have bean much 
easier for him to have taken it away in his pocket," replied Madame de 
Vervins, laying the fatal necklace upon the table. "But I think, like you, 
that he hasn't committed suicide. He cannot be devoid of Christian feel- 
ing. Besides, suicide wouldn't help the matter ; it is far better to atone 
for any fault one may have committed. And Julien will atone for his, I'm 
sure. You must now decide what you are going to do with him." 

" I ought to blow his brains out." 

' ' A pretty way to repair the evil. Do you forget that you have a daugh tcr? 
Poor Arlette ! what would become of her, pray, if she had neither father 
nor brother to protect her ? Such an act would only bring you before the 
Assizes. Now-a-days paternal authority is not recognised to the extent of 
giving the head of a family the power of life and death over guilty children. 
No, you must induce Julien to go into voluntary exile, and make him 
promise not to set foot in Paris again until he has thoroughly reformed. I 
am certain that you will succeed in doing this. Julien has a good heart ; 
and it will be easy to bring him back to the right path if you treat him 
kindly. Will you allow me to help you in this task, or even to undertake 
it alone?" 

"Yes, certainly; but it is too late. Matapan has already entered a 
complaint." 

"What ! the scoundrel has dared — " 

" He threatened to do so this morning, and I have no doubt but what he 
has kept his word." 

"But in that case, your son may be arrested at any moment," murmured 
the marchioness, shaking her head ; "and yet, it seems to me impossible 
that a young man, whose past has been irreproachable, and who bears an 
honoured name, should be treated like a common malefactor," 

" On the contrary, the severestpenalty of the law will be inflicted uponhim." 

" That may be. Still, proofs will be necessary, and the gossip of Mon- 
sieur Doutrelaise is all there is against him." 

" Here is one proof," said the count, pointing to the necklace, which was 
glittering in the light of the tapers. 

"But it is not in possession of the authorities," replied Madame de Ver- 
vins, " and they will never think of coming here to look for it. It is very 
fortunate that you found the necklace, for some one else might have dis- 
covered it, and in that case — " 

"Julien would be lost I know. I have been expecting a visit from a 
commissary of police all day. None has come, but a search will probably 
be instituted to-morrow — " 

" It will result in nothing, as the necklace is no longer there." 

"People will say that my son has concealed it elsewhere. Every one in 
the house will be against him ; no one will believe in his innocence. Duu- 
trelaise won't retract the statement which has served as the basis of the 
accusation. A certain Monsieur Bourleroy, a retired druggist, who lives 
on the floor above us, detests me because I declined his acquaintance. The 
doorkeeper, a worthless fellow, a free-thinker and a fierce radical, hates 
me also. They will all try to injure me by accusing Julien." 

" They can accuse him, but I defy them to prove his guilt until the pre- 
tended heirloom of the Matapan family is discovered." 

"Perhaps so, but his disgrace is none the less certain. But will you 
take the responsibility of keeping this necklace, marchioness ? " 



58 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" I keep it ? " exclaimed Madame de Vervins. " I have no desire to do 
so, I assure you." 

" And I had no intention of leaving it with yon. But what shall I do 
with it ? " 

" That's true. It won't be safe for you to keep it any longer ; I had for- 
gotten that," 

" You see that my son's fate is sealed," said M. de la Calprenede, 
bitterly. 

"No, no ; there is a way. Matapan's property must be restored to him. 
It can be done anonymously." 

" Do you think that would be an easy matter ? " 

" It is something that seems to be done every day. I often read of such 
restitutions in the Moniteur." 

" It may be easy to make restitution to the government, but how can I 
return a stolen article to this man without revealing that I am the 
sender? If I forwarded it by post I should be obliged to give my 
name ; if it was delivered by a messenger, the baron would question him ; 
if I threw it down in front of Monsieur Matapan's door, it would be 
even worse. They would easily guess whence it came." 

" But how would it do for you to go to your landlord and return it in 
person ? " inquired the marchioness, thoughtfully. 

" Telling him I had found it ? No ; I won't tell a falsehood. If Mata- 
pan had not insulted me by asking for the hand of Arlette, I should have 
told him the truth, whatever the consequences of my frankness might have 
been. We would have questioned my son together, and perhaps he would 
have exonerated himself. But now that Matapan has threatened me, this 
is impossible." 

Madame de Vervins seemed greatly perplexed, though she was seldom 
at a loss. At last, after a rather prolonged pause, she remarked : "On 
reflection, I really don't see why I shouldn't keep these opals for a short 
time, until we know how this unfortunate affair will end." 

" Will you really do so?" exclaimed M. de la Calprenede, eagerly. 

"Certainly," was the marchioness's quiet response, "and I shall deserve 
no great credit for doing so, for if by any chance the necklace should be 
found, I really don't think anyone will take me for a receiver of stolen 
goods ; nor will my conscience trouble me in the least, as I shall confer a 
favour upon an old friend without injuring anyone if I keep it. Monsieur 
Matapan will only be obliged to do without his family opals for a time — 
no great misfortune truly I In the meanwhile, I shall perhaps succeed in 
recalling when and where I saw them before. I would give ten years of 
my life, no, ten months — I am not sufficiently sure of living ten years — 
yes, I would cheerfully give ten months' existence to ascertain from whom 
Matapan stole these jewels, for I believe he did steal them." 

"This discovery would not exonerate Julien," muttered the count, 
shaking his head. 

"Unfortunately, no; but I repeat, my friend, there is no evidence 
against him. You, Arlette, and myself are the only persons who know 
where this necklace was found. You certainly cannot be expected to de- 
nounce your son, any more than Arlette can be expected to denounce her 
brother ; and I shall escape examination entirely, as the authorities will 
have no means of knowing that you have intrusted the necklace to my 
keeping." 

" But some day or other it will be necessary to return it.-' 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 59 

"Yes, I will attend to that; and when Monsieur Matapan receives it, I 
swear that he Bha'n't know who returns it to him, for I shall keep it 
until this foolish affair is entirely forgotten, and I will devise some way of 
restoring it to him without his suspecting that the jewels have passed 
through my hands. And now that we have settled this question, let us 
return to Julien. He cannot remain in Paris, and — " 

Madame de Vervins did not finish her sentence, but abruptly motioned 
to the count to remain silent. In spite of her seventy years, her sense of 
hearing was keen, and she had just heard voices in the hall. "It is 
Jacques, undoubtedly," she remarked. " He promised to come. I wished 
him to meet you, so that you could talk with him about the enterprise in 
which you are so deeply interested. I thought, too, that I would take 
advantage of the opportunity to impress him with the merits of our dear 
Arlette." 

" Don't speak of her. The marriage which we had planned is no longer 
possible," replied M. de la Calprenede quickly. 

"And why not?" exclaimed the marchioness. "It is no fault of 
Arlette's that — but we have not time to discuss the question now. Of course 
we mustn't speak of your son in the presence of my giddy nephew. I 
don't distrust his heart, but I do greatly distrust his prudence." 

"He probably comes to inform me that Julien is at the club. I shall go 
at once — " 

The door opened, but Francois did not announce the visitor who ap- 
peared upon the threshold. Faithful to the instructions he had received, 
the old servant was resolved to admit only Jacques de Courtaumer that 
evening, and it was not Jacques who was forcing his way into the march- 
ioness's drawing-room. However, it was a gentleman who strongly re- 
sembled him, although his manner was rather austere, and he was at least 
ten years older. 

' ' Why, Adrien, is it you, my boy ? " exclaimed Madame de Vervins. 

The new-comer she addressed so familiarly was dressed in black, and woro 
a white cravat. His hair was grey, and his profession was inscribed upon 
his serious face. It was impossible to doubt for a moment but what he was 
a magistrate, and certainly he was not accustomed to being addressed 
as " My boy." " What can have happened? " continued the marchioness. 
" I dined at your house and left you there not two hours ago. I scarcely 
expected to see you here this evening." 

" I assure you, aunt, that when you left us, I did not anticipate myself 
that—" 

" Explain yourself, instead of constructing well-turned sentences. I hope 
no misfortune has befallen any of your family." 

" No, aunt." 

" Then sit down and say what you have to say. I need not introduce 
you to Count de la Calprenede. You are already acquainted, I am 
sure." 

The two gentlemen bowed, not coldly, perhaps, but without much 
cordiality of manner. Adrien de Courtaumer was not naturally very 
affable, and M. de la Calprenede had never taken much pains to ingratiate 
himself with the magistrate ; besides, they both of them had special 
reasons for maintaining a prudent reserve. 

"Now, my dear nephew, tell me the cause of your unexpected appear- 
ance," said Madame de Vervins, with a meaning glance at the count, who 
had risen as if about to leave ; on seeing which she added : 



60 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" Remain, Robert. Don't go, I beg. We also have something to say 
to each other, and I suppose Adrien has nothing to tell me that you 
cannot hear." 

" No, aunt," replied the elder of the two Courtaumers, with some little 
hesitation. " I merely came to consult you." 

"What! you too?" exclaimed the marchioness, involuntarily. "And 
on what subject, pray? " 

" About a case that embarrasses me a little — a matter in which I should 
not be sorry to have Monsieur de la Calprenede's advice as well. " 

" And what may it be, sir ? " inquired the count, who could not repress 
a nervous start, for this beginning alarmed him. He then resumed his seat 
near the mantel-piece, and M. de Courtaumer, who was sitting between his 
aunt and the count, began his explanation by saying: "About a quarter 
of an hour after your departure, my dear aunt, I received a visit from a 
brother magistrate, who simply came to spend the evening with my wife 
and myself, and while talking of legal matters, he casually remarked 
that I should be called upon to-morrow to investige a case of theft — a 
case — " 

" And in what way can this possibly interest us ? " interrupted Madame 
de Vervins. "I understand nothing about criminal law, I assure 
you, and Monsieur de la Calprenede is neither a lawyer nor a magis- 
trate." 

"But I am, aunt." 

" It would be much better for you if you were not, although it was your 
chosen profession. But go on, and be as clear as possible, if you have any 
desire for me to understand you." 

" The situation can be explained in a few words. The robbery was com- 
mitted in a house on the Boulevard Haussmann, the very one in which the 
Count de la Caprenede resides. " 

Julien's father turned pale, but M. de Courtaumer was not looking at 
him as he spoke, and did not notice his change of countenance. The 
marchioness began to cough to conceal the agitation caused her by this 
announcement, which was far more clear and explicit than she had antici- 
pated. " Indeed ! " she remarked, at Last, in a careless tone. "But it is a 
superb house, and the neighbourhood is one of the best in Paris. Thieves 
respect nothing nowadays. My dear count, you had better see that there 
are proper fastenings on your doors — for I hope it was not in your apart- 
ment that the robbery was committed. Was it, Adrien ? " 

" No, aunt ; it was in the apartment of Monsieur Matapan, the landlord, 
who occupies the first floor." 

" Ah ! and what was stolen ? " inquired Madame de Vervins, with an 
indifferent air. 

" Diamonds, I believe ; I don't know exactly. My colleague was un- 
able to inform me, not having heard the particulars himself. The complaint 
was made to-day at about four o'clock. The clerk was unable to give him 
any of the details, but told him the affair would make a great stir. The 
case was to be intrusted to me, because it would be necessary to conduct it 
with great tact and prudence." 

" You seem to be indulging in a little self-praise, Adrien. Oh, you need 
not be ashamed ; I know you deserve it. You are a model magistrate — 
and nephew ; that is incontestable. But why is so much talent necessary 
for the investigation of a common theft ? " 

"Because it is supposed that the thief is not a professional. There ars 



TIIE MATAPAN AFFAIR. Gl 

good reasons to belicvo that the robbery was committed by one of the in- 
mates of the house. I have not heard these reasons yet, as I have not 
been regularly summoned, but it is more than probable that all the occu- 
pants of the house will be examined, and by me, necessarily, if I take 
charge of the case." Adrien paused for a moment, and then resumed : 

" It was this circumstance, my dear aunt, that prompted me to consult you. 
I know that M. de la Calprenede is your friend, and I should undoubtedly be 
obliged to summon him as a witness ; but I can decline to inves- 
tigate this case, and I came to ask you what I had better do. I ask this 
both of you, and of Monsieur de la Calprenede, since a fortunate chance has 
brought him here this evening." 

Neither of the two persons thus addressed answered without taking time 
for reflection. The marchioness said to herself: "Evidently this is no 
trap. In the first place, he would not dare to deceive me. He has a great 
interest in pleasing me, and besides I really think he is fond of me. 1 
know his character. He is cold and practical ; but though he lacks en- 
thusiasm, he is incapable of falsehood, or of even disguising the truth. 
Besides, he knows no more than he has told us. He is not aware that 
Julien is suspected of the theft, and he does not even know what was the 
article stolen. Under these circumstances," thought Madame de Vervins, 
" I am not sorry that he will have to conduct the investigation. He is 
just and upright, and he has no prejudices against my poor Robert's son. 
Instead of being hostile to him, he will be likely to defend him, in case the 
poor boy is openly accused. My only fear is that he will excuse himself 
out of delicacy, when he learns that one of our mutual acquaintances is 
implicated. But I am going to advise him to accept. " 

While she was engaged in arguments like these, the count on his side was 
saying to himself : " The magistrate is trying to deceive his aunt and me. 
He feigns ignorance, but he knows very well that Julien is accused, and as 
I have never been on particularly good terms with him he would like 
nothing better than to humiliate me. Still as Madame de Vervins is one 
of my particular friends, and as he knows she would blame him severely 
for taking sides against me, he has feigned scruples that he does not feel. 
He thinks she will tell him to go on ; and to-morrow, when the case is in 
his hands, and my son's disgrace known, he will apologise for proceeding 
with the case by saying that it is too late to draw back, and pleading pro- 
fessional duty. I should be mad, indeed, to tell him that I would prefer 
my son to be examined by some other magistrate. He would never forgive 
me for my distrust. The best thing I can do is to be silent." 

That the marchioness did not share the count's opinion soon became 
evident. " My dear nephew," she began, " it is my opinion that you are 
attaching altogether too much importance to a mere trifle. What differ- 
ence can it make to our dear friend, the count? I suppose no one will 
think of accusing him, and what harm would there be in your receiving 
his testimony, or that of the members of his family ? He isn't afraid to 
give his evidence before any honourable magistrate. These are your senti- 
ments, are they not, Robert?" 

M. de la Calprenede, thus appealed to, was obliged to give a gesture of 
acquiescence. 

" In that case I will conduct the investigation," said M. de Courtauincr. 
" I made it almost a matter of conscience ; but I think I exaggerated the 
difficulties of the situation. I often err in being over-scrupulous." 

"A good fault, my dear nephew, when a man is called upon to judge 



62 THE MATAl'AN AFFAIR. 

others," said Madame de Vervins, smiling. "But speaking of this 
robbery, it seems to me that Monsieur Matapan has made a great stir 
about a trifle. He has entered a complaint, you say ; that is all very well, 
but that isn't enough. He must have stated whom he suspects. 

" On the contrary, my colleague assured me that he had accused no one. 

" Then, of course, no one has been arrested." 

" No ; the duty of signing a warrant of arrest will devolve upon me. 
But I must first inquire into the facts upon which the complaint is based 
and examine the witnesses." 

" So the right to send people to prison belongs to you alone," murmured 
the marchioness, shaking her head. 

"Yes, though there are cases — such for instance as those in which a 
person is caught in the act, when the public prosecutor can order his 
arrest before I have begun an investigation of the affair, so as to prevent 
him from escaping to foreign lands — but in that case the prosecutor would 
inform me of the fact at once. If such was the case in the present instance, 
I should have been informed of it before now. " 

" And as you have heard nothing of the kind, it is certain that the cul- 
prit is still at large. But won't you take a cup of tea with us ? " 

' ' Thank you, aunt, but I promised Theresa that I would return immedi- 
ately." 

"Ah ! if your wife is waiting for you, I will not insist. A man should 
never break a promise made to his wife," said Madame de Vervins, who 
was not at all anxious to prolong the conversation. " So go, my dear 
Adrien ; Monsieur de la Calprenede will excuse you, I am sure of it. I 
shall hold you up as a model for your good-for-nothing brother. He 
solemnly promised to be here at nine o'clock, but has not yet made his 
appearance." 

M. de Courtaumer rose to take leave. As he did so, his eyes fell on the 
opal necklace which the marchioness had forgotten to put out of sight 
when he entered the room. She instantly perceived that he was looking at 
it, but, although greatly frightened for a moment, she felt considerably re- 
assured on seeing what little surprise he evinced. '* What magnificent 
opals ! " he quietly remarked, "I did not know you had any. Have you 
purchased them recently, my dear aunt? " 

" What ! do you suppose I am buying jewels at my age? The necklace 
was left with me — for inspection," murmured Madame de Vervins, who 
felt an almost unconquerable repugnance to uttering an untruth. 

"•w iS superb .' trulv 5 but 1 am sure my wife wouldn't wear it. She is 
terribly superstitious, and you know there is a strong prejudice against 

nhiUit 616 jf alwa y s s °me ground for such prejudices," replied the mar- 
„™T'„ u 0ur Wlf f is 1 uite ri ght not to wear opals, and I advise you 
TherLa would wV^ f ° r -, her - N ™> m y bov . * will detain you no longer. 

AdriendfrniT me lf - y0U ke P* her wai W *» long." 
but before leavi^thT 61 lmme ^tely availed himself of this permission ; 
deference S 00m • he b ° Wed to M ' de la Calprenede with marked 



ought to have put this hateful necklace out of sight " nea ung. 

"And I ought to have reminded you that it was on the table w«. wo. 
both so nervous that we forgot it, and now all is lost. Monsieur de C 



THE MATArAN AFFAIR. G3 

taumer has seen it ; and as he will take charge of the case as you advised 
him, he will learn to-morrow that the stolen article was an opal necklace." 

" True ; but he won't suspect me of having stolen it from Monsieur Ma- 
tapan's jewel-case. Ihe worst that can happen is that he may speak to me 
on the subject ; but I will have an answer ready." 

"But what will you say to him? " exclaimed M. de la Calprenede, de- 
spondently. / " He is too clever a magistrate not to guess the truth." 

"I don't know what I shall say to him, but I promise to save your son." 

"It is, perhaps, too late even now." 

" No, for he has not yet been arrested." 

"At all events I'm certain that the officers are in pursuit of him. Mon- 
sieur Matapan isn't the man to show me any mercy, and even if they have 
not found Julien as yet, they will soon do so." 

"That must be prevented at any cost; and to do so, it is only 
necessary to ascertain where he is, and to bring him to me — " 

" What ! You will conceal him ? " 

" Yes, certainly. I shall keep him here until this affair has blown over. 
It won't last long. I have a plan. Will you give me carte-Manche ? " 

" Certainly. But the— necklace ? " 

"It is safe here for the present. And now, my friend, I must ask you 
to leave me. I atn going out." 

" At this hour ? " 

" I must, as that good-for-nothing Jacques has failed to keep his promise. 
I am sure he is at his club, and I am going there." 

" To tell him what has occurred ? You surely won't do that, 
marchioness ? " 

" I am merely going to ask him to wait for your son and bring him to 
me as soon as he makes his appearance. And I know how my nephew can 
induce him to comply with my request." 

" But what if the unfortunate boy should not go to the club at all ? What 
if he has already returned home? And the house is under surveillance, 
perhaps." 

" You can ascertain that by returning home immediately ; but I am not 
of your opinion. If Julien returns home during the night you are to bring 
him here without losing a moment. I shall not go to bed, and I will give 
orders to have you admitted at any hour. He won't refuse to accompany 
you when he learns that he has been accused, and that he will only be safe 
under my roof." M. de la Calprenede was going to offer further objections, 
but just then the door opened, and Francois entered in answer to the 
marchioness's ring. " My carriage," she said, in a tone which admitted of 
no response from the old servant, and which equally silenced the count. 



VI. 

Almost all the Parisian clubs are in the same part of the city — between the 
Rue Drouot and the Quai d'Orsay ; but they are not all alike by any 
means. Some can show upon their list of members the proudest names 
that France can boast of, while others richly deserve to be placed under the 
surveillance of the police. Between these two extremes, there are middle- 
class establishments, for it does not suffice to be respectable or even fashion- 
able to gain admission into the Jockey Club, and many irreproachable 
individuals who fear undeserved blackballing are content to connect them- 



G4 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

selves with clubs into which an entrance is easily effected. _ Jacques de 
Courtaumer might have reasonably aspired to a very aristocratic institution; 
but even he feared a number of blackballs, well knowing they are freely 
given in certain exclusive sets. Besides, he had no time to wait. After 
three years spent in the China seas, he was eager to become a Parisian 
again, and that a man cannot be unless he belongs to a club. 

The one he had chosen suited him admirably, as it was one^of the gayest 
in the city, and young members were in the majority, though others of 
mature years were not wanting. Doutrelaise belonged to it, just like 
Bourleroy, senior, and they never touched a card ; while Bourleroy, junior, 
and Julien de la Calprenfede never went there except to gamble.. M. 
Matapan also belonged to this institution, but he was not a frequent visitor. 
Doutrelaise had naturally served as sponsor for his friend Courtaumer, 
who had been elected without opposition, and had soon become a great 
favourite at the club. He made it his headquarters, dining there and 
spending most of his nights at the card-table. On the day that his aunt 
informed him she should expect to see him in the evening, he concluded 
that it was best to apprise the steward of his intention of taking part in 
the seven o'clock dinner, so as to be free at nine and keep his engagement 
with Madame de Vervins. So after being so unceremoniously deserted by 
Doutrelaise in the Champs-Elysees, he mechanically proceeded in the direc- 
tion of the club, and decided to while away the afternoon there. He found 
no acquaintances lounging about, but there were plenty of comfortable arm- 
chairs in front of a good fire ; and he soon fell into a dreamless slumber, 
from which he awoke only just in time to enter the dining-room where a 
seat had been reserved for him. 

The dinner was good, but Jacques' neighbours were rather prosy, and, to 
console himself for being obliged to listen to their platitudes, he treated him- 
self to a bottle of Moet's Brut Imperial. This soon restored his cheerfulness, 
and lie finally began to listen to his fellow members who were talking 
about a new candidate for admission to the club — a kind of nabob who was 
said to have made an immense fortune in the Indies, and who would stake 
one hundred thousand francs at the card-table every evening. It is need- 
less to say that many of the players were elated at the thought of winning 
such a large amount. Others, however, objected to the numerous 
foreigners who were flocking to Tan's, arriving suddenly no one knew 
whence, and soon vanishing like meteors, without anyone being able to say 
what had become of them. 

"However, this one will at least leave no debts behind him," said a 
gentleman who was advocating the claims of the candidate, "for he is 
worth several millions." 

"?i I Were sure he vvou1,1 leave one of them here at the card-table, I 
pla er V ° te ^ him with b ° th hands >" exclaimed a proverbially unlucky 

vouches for him°" d bondsman >" remarked another. ".Monsieur Matapan 

■'The old^o™nt D ?>" ion ? i - 6 ^i 10 has sprun S U P like a mushroom." 
and thtt dSdUeTytodTdrv 01 ?. 6 *** " H * ^^ ^ b »* »" 

"What of that ? Ait^ght to win » 

" Yes, provided he doesn't cheat " 
A man doesn't cheat when hp i« a i„„j j - ^ 

Matapan owns several very ^v^i^J^^^ ^^ 



THE M ATA PAN AFFAIR. G5 

" The house ne occupies on the Boulevard Ilaussmann is one of them." 

" We are acquainted with nearly all of the occupants. The Bourleroys, 
father and son, Monsieur de la Gaiprenede, and Doutrelaise, your friend," 
said one of Courtaunmr's neighbours turning to him. 

" Yes," Jacques replied ; "but Doutrelaise is not much better acquainted 
with his landlord than I am. Who is this Monsieur Matapan, pray ? " 

" Upon my word ! you are asking too much. When he first made his 
appearance in Paris about ten years ago, it was reported that he had dis- 
covered a gold mine, or a deposit of guano — I have forgotten which — for 
people have long ceased to talk about him. He is a peculiar man, and 
leads, a strange life. He never goes into society or to the theatre ; and, 
in fact, he rarely conies here. " 

"But he isn't married, I believe." 

" No, nor does anyone know of the slightest amorous intrigue in which 
he has ever taken part." 

" Then how does he spend his time ? " 

" In counting his money, I suppose. It is an agreeable occupation, and 
seems to suffice him." 

" You are entirely mistaken there, gentlemen," remarked a member who 
had so far taken no part in the conversation. " Matapan is a philosopher 
who prefers solitude to the society of fools ; but he can be agreeable enough 
when he chooses." 

" You must be a favourite of his, as you know him so well. Gentlemen, 
I can assure you that JTalgueras has a special talent for bear-taming. He is 
the friend of Monsieur Matapan, the cynic. I will even wager that he has 
been to his house." 

" Twenty times," responded Falgueras, who was a big, genial fellow with 
money enough to live as he liked, and paint in his leisure moments. " We 
.both have a fondness for antique jewels, and he has a remarkable collection 
which he is fond of showing to amateurs. And I assure you that his life is 
no more mysterious than his past. He has travelled a great deal, and talks 
very freely of his adventures. I think he was a sailor in his youth, and he 
is not ashamed of his former comrades, for I met him just now on the boule- 
vard arm and arm with a man who looked very like a sailor ashore on 
leave." 

" His ears were pierced, were they not ? " inquired Courtaumer. 

"I didn't notice. Matapan, when I stopped to ask him after his 
health, seemed to be in a hurry, and we only chatted for a moment." 

"His companion, who you say looked like a sailor, was the very nabob 
who has applied for admission to the club," remarked the member who had 
started the conversation. " We shall vote for his admission next week." 

"Not I," replied Courtaumer, quickly. "I know who your nabob is, 
and if he is admitted I shall send in my resignation." 

This announcement caused evident displeasure. M. Matapan had some 
warm champions among the guests — millionaires invariably have — and all 
the card-players present hoped to win some golden spoil from the so-called 
nabob. Courtaumer, seeing he would be outvoted, allowed the subject to 
drop, and finished his dinner without taking any further part in the con- 
versation, which soon drifted into another channel. 

In the smoking-room, to which he afterwards repaired to sip his coffee 
before wending his way to the Rue Castiglione, he was joined by Falgueras, 
who, after installing himself comfortably in an arm-chair beside him, asked 
point-blank : " You are very intimate with Doutrelaise, are you not ? " 





66 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" Yes," Jacques replied, rather surprised by this beginning. 
" And Monsieur Doutrelaise is very intimate with the Count de la Cal- 
prenede's son, is lie not ? " 

"Not exactly. He knows him, and often sees him; they live in the 
same house, you know. But that's all. However, why do you ask me 
this question ? " 

' ' Because Monsieur Doutrelaise ought certainly to be informed that some 
very unpleasant reports are abroad about that young man. I am not suf- 
ficiently acquainted with Doutrelaise to venture to give him any advice, but 
I thought that you would perhaps allow me to repeat to you some 
of the rumours about young Calprenede which have been current here for 
several days, so that you may inform your friend, if you consider it 
necessary." 

Courtaumer was not at all prepared for these remarks, and felt somewhat 
annoyed, as he was not fond of gossip ; but M. Falgueras' intentions were 
^evidently good, and Courtaumer reflected that Doutrelaise would be in- 
terested in knowing what people were saying about Arlette's brother. " I 
am not generally inclined to meddle with the affairs of others," he replied, 
after some hesitation, " still, if these rumours are compromising to the young 
fellow's honour, it would perhaps be as well for Doutrelaise to be informed 
of the fact. However, what do people say about young Calprenede? 
that he is in debt ? " 

' ' Yes ; that he has contracted debts of honour, and that he doesn't pay 
them." 

" He isn't the only one, and it isn't a criminal offence — especially if he 
means to pay his debts by-and-bye." 

" It is a case of expulsion from the club when a stated time has elapsed, 
as is true in the present instance. He owes the club treasury at least five 
thousand francs which must be paid up before to-morrow, or the case will 
be submitted to the committee which can only enforce the rules." 

" The amount will be paid before the committee meets, I'm certain of it, 
for the very simple reason that I know some one who will lend him the 
money — a friend of mine." 

" Indeed ! You will perhaps consider me impertinent, but may I ask 
you if this obliging friend is not Monsieur Doutrelaise ? " 
" And what if it is ? " 

" He would act foolishly, I think, to do this young man a service which 
won't save him, for he owes others besides the treasury." 

" Young Bourleroy, eh ? I'm aware of that, and think that debt will 
also be paid. I may as well tell you that Doutrelaise is ready and willing 
to extricate young Calprenede from his financial embarrassments. He 
would have done so before this time if he had met him ; for he has been in 
pursuit of him ever since the morning. Have you seen him at the club this 
afternoon ? " 

" Calprenede? No, upon my word ! and I don't think he will show 

i m I el n f /r here again Vory soon ' if ever - Everyone is after him it seems. In- 
deed, Monsieur Matapan, who only spoke to me for a moment, requested 
me to send him word by messenger if Calprenede came here this even- 
ing." 

" And did you promise to send Monsieur Matapan word ? " 

" Certainly I did. " l 

" It seems to me that you have accepted a singtilar mission I have no 
intention of wounding you ; but— and I appeal to your own sense of honour 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 67 

— do you not think that in watching ono person on behalf of another, there 
is something extremely repugnant tu any honourablo man V " 

" Excuse mi:," replied M. Fulgiu'ras, with considerable warmth, "I have 
no intention of watching any one. I merely desired to do a favour to Baron 
Matapan, who probably has some important communication to make to 
young Calprenede." 

"It I wero in your place, I think I should attach less importance to 
pleasing Baron Matapan than to offending a young man who has never 
injured you in any way ; I'm sure of it. 1 am afraid that Matapan is also 
one of young Calprenede's creditors, and if I'm not mistaken, Calprene.de 
won't bo over pleased to be hunted down at the club by means of the infor- 
mation you may supply." 

" You are right. I hadn't thought of that, and Matapan can take care 
of himself. I sha'n't send him any warning whatover. But I really believe 
that Monsieur Doutrelaise will repent of his generosity, for people tell 
many hard stories about Calprenede, I assure you." 

" By 'people' you mean Anatole Bourleroy, I suppose. I have reason to 
know that he is circulating all sorts of slanderous reports about the son of a 
gentleman who is one of my aunt's most esteemed friends, and I sha'n't 
allow him to attack Julien's character in my presence. I was on the point 
of pulling his ears in a restaurant this morning for certain whispered 
remarks of his, the purport of which I could easily divine ; and if he 
ventures to repeat these remarks aloud where I can hear them, I assure you 
he will receive a severe lesson." 

" I really believe he is coming in now," exclaimed FalgiuSras. "Listen 
t.o that shrill laugh. It is certainly he, accompanied by the simpletons who 
form his court. I hope you aren't going to pick a quarrel with fellows of 
that stamp." 

"No; for I'm going to yield my place to them," replied Courtaumer, 
draining his cup of coffee. " It is half-past eight, and I have an engage- 
ment at nine. " 

Falgu6ras, who was of a peaceable disposition, made no attempt to detain 
his companion ; but, just as the ex-lieutenant rose, Anatole and his 
followers burst noisily into the room. Courtaumer saw that they were 
all more or less under the influence of liquor, and he gathered from their 
rather incoherent conversation that they had dined in a neighbouring 
restaurant, and had come to the club to fetch one of their comrades, and 
take him to see a young actress, who had given Bourleroy many proofs of 
her preference, and who would appear in a short farce at the Varie-tes that 
night. Jacques did not stop to listen ; he was, indeed, about to leave the 
room, when Anatole boisterously exclaimed : "I bet I'll compel the 
orchestra to play the ' Marseillaise ' during the whole of the first entr'acte." 

" How much will you bet ? " asked one of his gay companions. 

" I'll stake the six thousand francs that my Lord Julien de la Calprenede 
owes me against a hundred." 

Courtaumer started as if a wasp had stung him, and walked straight 
towards the impertinent speaker. " I forbid you to speak ill of Monsieur 
de la Calprenede," he said, in a most aggressive tone. 

" I beg your pardon," stammered the druggist's presumptuous son. " I 
did not see you, and I did not know that he was one of your friends— besides, 
I didn't speak ill of him." 

" You staked the six thousand francs he owes you against a hundred, 
which is equivalent to saying that he won't pay you." 



68 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" I cannot say that he won't pay me, but I know that he has not yet 
done so. I have written to him, asking for my money, and he has not even 
condescended to reply." 

Courtaumer began to see that his position was a false one, and that 
Julien's debt must be paid before he could silence M. Bourleroy. He was 
also conscious that the neutral members disapproved of the course he had 
taken. The noise of the quarrel had roused several grave gentlemen who 
had been dozing before the fire, and disturbed some people playing a rather 
close game of whist, and everybody was now looking at him, much as the 
audience in a theatre looks at a person who is disturbing the performance. 
It was evident, too, that everyone thought him in the wrong. The prudent 
Falgueras tried to calm him by some remark made in a subdued tone ; but 
Courtaumer when once fairly started was not easily checked. " I repeat 
that I forbid you to speak of Monsieur de la Calprenede," he said angrily. 
" If you venture to utter his name again in my presence, I shall punish you 
as you deserve." 

Anatole, completely cowed, hung his head, and mumbled a few un- 
intelligible words : and Courtaumer had just turned his back upon him in 
token of scorn, when the door of the room was flung open, and Julien de la 
Calprenede entered in person. 

This time every one rose with the exception of one old whist player who 
had nine trumps in his hand, and who was determined to see the game 
through to the end. Everybody anticipated a scene, and was wondering 
how it would end. Of those present, Jacques de Courtaumer was perhaps 
the most embarrassed, and yet the unexpected entrance of Julien de la Cal- 
prenede had completely subjugated Anatole, whose confusion was pitiable 
to behold. Jacques, however, realized the false position in which he had 
placed himself by his thoughtless violence. Julien did not come to uphold 
him, for he was not his friend; Julien was even ignorant that he had 
undertaken his defence, and if he discovered the fact, he might ask him by 
what right he had interfered. And what was he doing at the club, this 
delinquent debtor, threatened with expulsion ? And what was he going to 
say to the creditor who had just ventured to declare he had little hope of 
receiving the amount due to him ? 

If he had come to ask for time, Courtaumer would find himself in a most 
embarrassing position, and would appear to be the unauthorized champion 
of a ninn who did not deserve to be defended. 

In short, Jacques would willingly have given all the money left in his 
pocket to have found himself in the drawing-room of the aunt who was 
expecting him. But retreat was now out of the question, for the excellent 
reason that it would look very much as if he were flying from the common 
enemy, leaving the comrade he had just defended so warmly in his clutches. 
So ho remained and waited. Julien paused for a moment near the door. 
He realised that the company had been talking of him, for the conversation 
had suddenly ceased, and every one was looking at him. Anatole mean- 
while summoned courage to raise his head again. He began to think 
ne might come off conqueror after all. He even hoped that Calprenede 

Jaco,?^ n A n a P 0l °g 12e f °r having failed to pay his debt, and thus prove 
Jacques de Courtaumer to be in the wrong 

anyone 11 not IZ^ P^ but T' in the least disconcerted. Without noticing 
^rfM* a otesfehta , ^ e ck^Tl! ,Cd ^ nr i ero J r ' and > drawing a small 
"Here i8the -V y T«^^^ 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. G9 

This announcement produced an instant revulsion of feeling. Julien'a 
foes suddenly became his friends, and Courtaumer regained confidence. As 
for Anatole, his face was a study for a painter. He tried to assume a 
c.ireluss air, but he only succeeded in forcing a sheepish smile, as he 
crumpled the bank-notes in his hand. "See if the amount is correct," 
said Julien, calmly. 

" Oh, I will take your word for that," was the reply. " I assure you 
was not at all uneasy about my money." 

This was such a glaring falsehood that there was a general murmur of 
protest. Anatole found himself again in a dilemma ; the confusion he had 
expected to see his adversary display had overtaken himself; and young 
Calprenede did not give him time to recover. " Now that you are paid," 
he continued, in a clear, ringing voice, "there is no longer anything to 
prevent me from telling you that I consider you a scoundrel." 

" This is doubtless a jest, sir," stammered Anatole. 

" I don't jest with persons of your stamp, and I repeat that }'ou are a 
scoundrel. This epithet will be enough, I think, to make you decide to 
fight. If I don't receive a visit from your seconds by to-morrow morning, 
I shall send you mine ; and if you refuse to designate yours, I shall proceed 
from words to deeds. You understand me, don't you ? " 

" No, I don't understand the meaning of your threats, and I declare I 
have not insulted you." 

" Then I will speak more plainly. I shall inflict personal chastisement 
upon you every time I meet you, until you have given me satisfaction for 
the remarks which you made in this room last evening, and which you 
cannot deny, for I heard them. That will suffice, I hope. You now know 
the offence for which I demand reparation, and what awaits you if you 
don't consent to give it. It is for you to decide. I have nothing more to 
say to you." 

"Nor have I anything to say to you," murmured the crestfallen fop, 
with such an air of abject humility that a couple of his friends, less cowardly 
than himself, drew him aside and began a whispered conversation with him. 
They probably reminded him that twenty people were looking on, and that 
he must show a little more spirit to save the honour of the Bourleroys. In 
short, they laboured so zealously that Anatole finally succeeded in saying, 
" I am entirely at your service, sir, but I do not know what remarks you 
allude to, and I beg you will be more explicit." 

He knew that Julien would be unwilling to mention his sister's name in 
the presence of such a mixed company, and in default of a response, he 
hoped to make the young fellow seem a simpleton, trying to pick a quarrel 
about nothing. 

But Julien out-generaled him by retorting: "My seconds will specify 
matters when they meet yours. It does not suit me to repeat your foolish 
calumnies here. I should have silenced you yesterday if I had not been 
your debtor, but I am that no longer, as I have just repaid you your six 
thousand francs." 

"I did not ask you for them — I never once asked you for them," ex- 
claimed Bourleroy, glad of an opportunity to renew his attempts at concilia- 
tion, "and if you need the amount, to repay the money due to the club 
treasury for instance, I am perfectly willing to wait." 

He instantly perceived that he had been guilty of another blunder, and 
that his adversary regarded this proposal as a fresh insult. " What right 
have you to meddle with my affairs?" asked Julien, drily. "Are you 



70 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

charged with collecting the club money ? What business is it of your3 
whether I owe the treasury money or not ? " 

" Not the least in the world. It wasn't on my own account that I spoke. 
I said what I did with the very best intentions." 

" I care nothing about your intentions, but I wish to tell you, here in the 
presence of these gentlemen, that the account to which you have just 
alluded is settled. Now we will allow this matter to rest until to-morrow." 
With these words, Julien de la Calprenede left the room as he had entered 
it, without bowing to any one. 

However, Jacques de Courtaumer at once decided to follow him and have 
a conversation with him. Julien had just risen greatly in his esteem. He 
felt sure that the money used in paying these debts had been lent by 
Doutrelaise, and although he thought that Julien had made the scene rather 
too theatrical, he was pleased to see him display so much spirit, and wished 
to give him some mark of sympathy. Besides, he thought it would be as 
well to warn him that M. Matapan was watching for him. 

Starting off, he perceived young Calprenede at the end of a passage leading 
to the antechamber of the club. He must almost have run to traverse such 
a distance in so short a time, and to stop him, Courtaumer called him by 
name. Julien turned, recognised Jacques, and retraced his steps, although 
rather reluctantly. Still, his manner was polite enough when Courtaumer 
accosted him with these words : " My friend Doutrelaise requested me to 
tell you that he was looking for you, but I now feel sure that you have met 
him." 

" I saw him at the Cafe 1 de la Paix this morning," replied Julien, " but I 
have not seen him since." 

"What! the money you just paid that scoundrel — " Julien started, 
and seemed about to fly into a passion. He restrained himself, however, 
and Courtaumer continued warmly : " Pray believe that I have no desire 
to wound you. Our acquaintance is very slight, but we move in the same 
circle, and we have a mutual friend, so I may, perhaps, venture to say to 
you that I should have been very glad to accommodate you myself, for 
Doutrelaise did not conceal from me the fact that you were pecuniarily 
embarrassed. Unfortunately, I was in the same condition. But I thought 
our friend had come to your help." 

While he was speaking, a footman had approached, and now said in a 
respectful tone: "Some one wishes to see you in the visitors' room, 
Monsieur de la Calprenede." 

" Who is it ? " asked Julien, brusquely. 

" The person did not give his name." 

" Didn't give his name," repeated Julien, shrugging his shoulders. 
" Well ! go and ask him it. I don't receive people whom I don't know." 
And as the footman moved away, he called after him : "Make haste. I 
am in a hurry." 

"And I, also, am in a hurry," said Courtaumer. "My aunt, Madame 
de Vervins, is expecting me ; and I remember, now, that I promised to 
bring you to her house, if I met you." 

"I regret that I am unable to accompany you; but I am obliged to 
return home. I have just treated one contemptible scoundrel as he deserves. 
Now I have another account to settle." 

" Not with Doutrelaise, I hope," said Courtaumer, smiling. " You have 
a way of annihilating people who offend you." 

" Oh 1 I have nothing against Monsieur Doutrelaise ; but there is a man 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 71 

I loathe, although I am indebted to him pecuniarily. I owe him four 
thousand francs, and I am going to pay him, so as to be able to tell him 
what I think of him afterwards." 

" So you are going to settle with all your creditors to-day. That's 
fortunate, and I congratulate you most sincerely, especially if you have not 
had to borrow of others to do so. " 

" No, for the very good reason that no one would have lent me a penny, 
excepting, perhaps, Monsieur Doutrelaise, and I would not allow him to 
inconvenience himself on my account. But it was absolutely indispensable 
that I should raise a certain sum of money. I had only fifty napoleons 
left. The idea of risking them occurred to me, and very fortunately, for 
in three hours I had won eighteen thousand francs." 

"Where ? my mouth fairly waters." 

" At an establishment I know. A clandestine roulette table, kept by an 
ex-croupier from Monaco, who is only here for a time. And — only think 
of my good luck ; to-morrow it would have been too late — he leaves for 
Spain." 

" Then gaming saloons are certainly not as black as they are painted. I 
am no longer astonished if you couldn't be found to-day. You were 
making a fortune by guessing numbers while everybody was looking for 
you." 

" By everybody, I suppose you mean Monsieur Doutrelaise." 

"And your father as well. I met him in the Champs-Elysees, and he 
particularly requested me to tell you that he wished to see you as soon as 
possible, and that he would be at my aunt's between nine and eleven this 
evening." 

" I cannot go there. My father will learn why when he returns home, 
for I shall be there." 

"Does your last creditor reside in the same house as yourself, then? " 

" Yes, and I am in a hurry to settle my account with him." 

" I would wager a handsome amount that it is Baron Matapan." 

"Do you know him? " exclaimed Julien. 

He was evidently about to ask Jacques the nature of his acquaintance 
with the baron, when he noticed that the footman had just returned from 
the visitors' room, and so, turning towards him, he inquired : " Have you 
brought me the card of the person who wishes to see me ? " 

"No, sir," replied the servant, evidently much embarrassed. "The 
gentleman told me — " 

" Then it is a gentleman ? " cried Courtaumer, gaily. " I fancied it was 
a lady. Men don't affect such mystery as a rule." 

"Well, what did he say to you ?" inquired Julien, impatiently. 

" He told me," replied the footman, lowering his voice — " he told mc he 
was a Commissary of Police." 

" You are mad ! " 

" Excuse me, sir, I saw his sash of office." 

"Then there must be some mistake," said Jacques. " He certainly can- 
not wish to see Monsieur de la Calprenede." 

" He asked for him, sir, and even added that if Monsieur de la Calpre- 
nede refused to comply with his request for an interview, he should be 
obliged to come upstairs." 

" That is a little too much," exclaimed Julien, indignantly. " Go and 
tell him I am coming." 

Jacques' face suddenly clouded. He did not for one instant suppose that 



72 1'IIE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

the son of the Count de la Calpronede had been guilty of any crime, but the 
Words, Commissary of Police, had anything but a pleasant sound. 

Julien appeared more indignant than alarmed. " It seems to me every- 
thing is conspiring to delay me. I can't go off now until I ascertain what 
this man wants," he remarked, bitterly. 

' ' Can the police have made a descent upon the establishment where you 
gambled to-day ? " inquired Courtaumer, laughing. "No; that's hardly 
likely. In such cases they arrest the proprietor, but don't trouble them- 
selves about the players. I wonder what this commissary can have to say 
to you ? " 

" You would oblige me very much by going to receive him with me." 
"I should like nothing better, although I promised to be at my aunt's 
at nine o'clock. It is ten now, so I sha'n't escape a scolding in any case. 
But I suppose your conversation with this official won't occupy much 
time ? " 

" I suppose not. Come, since you are kind enough to accompany me." 
" I am also ready to assist you in another way — that is, if you will do me 
the honour to choose me as your second in your duel with Bourleroy." 

" I should not have dared to ask this favour of you, but I gladly accept 
your offer," was Julien's quick response. 

They had now reached the anteroom, and the servants helped them to 
put on their overcoats. The visitors' room was on the floor below, at 
the foot of the staircase, near the entrance of the hall leading to the boule- 
vard. At the door the porter was holding an animated conversation with 
two shabbily-dressed men who seemed inclined to make their way into the 
hall. Jacques and Julien scarcely noticed this, but entered the visitors' 
room, which was an elegantly-furnished apartment. There, standing with 
his hat in his hand, was an eminently respectable looking gentleman whom 
they would have mistaken for a member of the club, had they not seen a 
tri-colour sash gleaming under his overcoat, which had been intentionally 
left open. His face was intelligent, and expressive of so much geniality and 
benevolence, that the two young men immediately felt at ease. 

' ' Which of you is Monsieur de la Calprenfede, gentlemen ? " he inquired 
with great politeness. 

"I am he," Julien replied. 
" And this gentleman ? " 
" Is one of my friends." 
" I should like to speak to you in private." 

"This gentleman can hear all you have to say to me. In fact, I am 
even anxious for him to hear it. " 

The commissary hesitated for an instant, then, without making any 
further objections, he said : " I come, sir, to fulfil a very painful duty, and 
I desire to perform it with all possible consideration for you. It was for 
this reason that I abstained from going upstairs. By calling you here, you 
see, I avoided unnecessary publicity ; and I am sure you will not compel 
me to resort to measures which I should greatly dislike to employ." 
" I don't understand you," rejoined Julien, drily. 

" You will in a moment. I am the bearer of a warrant for your arrest, 
which the public prosecutor ordered me to serve about an hour ago." 

"A warrant for my arrest!" exclaimed Julien. "Nonsense! You 
must be mistaken ! " 

" No, sir, I am not mistaken. Any error is quite out of the miestion 
Your name la Juhen-Louis-Charles de la Calprenede, and you live at No." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 73 

319, on the Boulevard Haussmann. I can show you the warrant. You 
will see that all the details are correct." 

" It will be enough to tell me of what I am accused." 

" I regret to tell you in your friend's presence, but as you insist — you are 
accused of theft." 

" Theft ! " repeated Julien, in profound consternation. 

" But that's absurd !" exclaimed Jacques. "I beg your pardon, sir, I 
mean that this strange accusation is as great a surprise to Monsieur de la 
Calprenede as it is to me." 

" At whose request am I arrested? " inquired Julien, in a husky voice. 

" By virtue of a complaint made by Baron Matapan, the landlord of the 
house in which you reside." 

" Ah, the wretch ! No one else would be capable of such an infamous 
act ! And what have I stolen from him, pray ? " 

" A very valuable necklace, composed of twenty-three opals surrounded 
by diamonds." 

" Ah 1 " exclaimed Julien, " now I know the origin of this charge." 

On hearing this unexpected remark, the Commissary of Police looked at 
the young man with an air of surprise, and Jacques de Courtaumer started. 
It seemed to him that Julien had just betrayed himself, and that he was 
indeed guilty. 

" Now, sir," said the commissary, " I must ask you to accompany me to 
the Prefecture D6p6t. " 

"I shall not. Take me before a magistrate, if you like. He can 
question me, and I will reply. You have no right to treat me as a criminal. 
A man cannot be thrown into prison before he has been allowed an oppor- 
tunity to exonerate himself." 

" I am acting in obedience to orders, sir ; and I would call your atten- 
tion to the fact that such precautions are not unfrequently taken in such 
cases. The authorities must make sure of the person of the suspected 
party." 

" A fig for your customs ! I repeat that I shall not accompany you to 
the place you mention. I wish to see a magistrate." 

" To-morrow you will be taken before one, who will hear what you have 
to say, and then decide what further steps shall be taken in the case ; but 
I cannot postpone the execution of the warrant of which I am the bearer." 

"I care nothing about your warrant," cried Julien, becoming more and 
more excited. 

"Take care, sir; don't make matters worse by resistance," said the 
commissary, with commendable patience. "It is in your own interest 
that I advise you to accompany me quietly. If you are in a position to 
prove your innocence, what do you fear ? One night is soon over, even in 
prison, and you will probably be released to-morrow. I scarcely need add 
that if you are set at liberty, no one will know that you have been 
arrested. With me, as with every police official, absolute secrecy is a 
professional duty. Besides, if you persist in your resistance, I shall be 
obliged to use forcible measures. Two of my subordinates are waiting for 
me at the door of the club-house. I have only to call them and order 
them to arrest you. But such a scandal would have a most deplorable 
effect. I appeal to this gentleman," added the commissary turning to 
Jacques, who had been a prey to the most conflicting emotions for some 
moments. 

At first he had been indignant at this accusation against the son of his 



74 THE MATAPAN AFFAIK. 

aunt's most intimate friend ; then a strange suspicion had suddenly 
flashed through his mind. The imprudent words spoken by Julien seemed 
to throw a gleam of light upon the situation, and almost immediately he 
recollected that this debtor had unexpectedly settled all his numerous 
obligations with bank-notes, gained, as he pretended, at a clandestine 
roulette table. This story now seemed improbable in the extreme. Jacques 
foresaw that few persons would be likely to believe it, and might seek for 
the source of this sudden and most opportune change of fortune elsewhere. 
Jacques also thought the commissary was right in advising Julien to 
submit. It would be much better to go quietly to prison, than to engage in 
a futile struggle, which would certainly attract the attention of other 
members of the club. " My dear fellow," said the ex-lieutenant, "I am 
inclined to think that you waste your time in parleying with subordinates, 
who have received an order which they are compelled to execute. When 
I served in the navy, I was placed under arrest more than once, and the 
idea of resisting the person charged with my arrest never once occurred 
to me." 

" This is a very different case," said Julien, angrily. 

" It might be much worse ; Monsieur Bourleroy will be down soon, and 
you wouldn't care for him to see you in the custody of the police." Cour- 
taumer had touched the right chord. Julien hung his head without 
making any attempt to answer this argument ; and Jacques, added : 
"You are evidently the victim of a mistake, which will be discovered to- 
morrow, and you will be set at liberty. I will promise you to inform your 
father, and call upon this Matapan, who accuses an honourable man so 
rashly. I don't know what grounds he may have for his suspicions, but I 
shall certainly have very little difficulty in convincing him that they are 
extremely absurd, and he will no doubt withdraw his complaint im- 
mediately." 

" That wouldn't atone for the infamous act he has committed. He shall 
pay dearly for it. " 

" You can settle that account when you are at liberty, my dear fellow ; 
but if you will take my advice, we will start at once. This isn't the 
place for a discussion of this kind. Think of it ; the footman who sum- 
moned you may have already told his fellow servants, that a commissary 
of police was asking for you." 

" I was sorry to be obliged to reveal my calling," said the kind-hearted 
official ; " but, unfortunately, my name alone would not have induced 
Monsieur de la Calprenede to see me, as he had no acquaintance with 
me — " 

"That will do, sir," interrupted Julien. "You have a vehicle, I 
suppose." 

' ' Yes, sir, and I was careful to station it some distance from the club- 
house. If you will kindly accompany me, we can enter it without attract- 
ing the slightest notice. My two assistants are in the street." 

"You are mistaken. They are talking with the doorkeeper just now. 
That is the way you pretend to avoid scandal," said Julien ironically. 

"I forbade them to show themselves, and if they have ventured to dis- 
obey me — " 

" We are losing time," exclaimed Courtaumer. " Let us start, mv dear 
fellow." 

"Excuse me, sir," said the commissary, "you cannot accompany your 
friend. Our regulations forbid it." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. (0 

"Very well; but you are not obliged to apply these rules in all their 
rigour. Allow me to tell you who I am — my name is Jacques do Cour- 
taumer, I was formerly a lieutenant in the navy." 

" Are you a relative of Monsieur de Courtaumer, the well-known inves- 
tigating magistrate? " 

" I am his brother, and I assure you that he will appreciate any favour 
you may show me and Monsieur do la Calprenede, who is the son of a 
particular friend of our family." 

This little speech had its effect. "I cannot take the responsibility of 
leaving you alone with this gentleman," replied the commissary after a 
short pause, " but I will allow you to take a seat in the vehicle which is to 
convey us to the d6p6t." 

" That is all I ask," replied Courtaumer. It was not only to spare 
Julieu the humiliation of departing alone with these policemen, that ho 
desired to remain with him. He wished to ask hiin some questions, so 
that he might know what to think of the unfortunate youth's position. 

They left the visitor's room, Calpren6de going first, followed by the com- 
missary, while Courtaumer brought up the rear. 

The two detectives were no longer in the vestibule, and the doorkeeper 
did not emerge from his room to see the party pass by, a fact which 
seemed to indicate that he suspected nothing. In the street they met the 
two detectives. The commissary ordered one of them to take his seat on 
the box beside the coachman and dismissed the other. Julien naturally 
stepped in first, the commissary seated himself beside him, and Cour- 
taumer took a place opposite. All this was done without attracting the 
attention of the passers-by The vehicle started, and for about ten minutes 
no one spoke. 

"Really, it seems to me that the demands of justice are exceedingly 
rigorous here in Paris," Courtaumer said at last. " I cannot under- 
stand why such imperative orders for your arrest should have been given. 
You are not a vagabond, you have a home, and there would have been no 
difficulty about finding you there to-morrow morning. An explanation of 
a quarter of an hour with M. Matapan would have settled everything." 

"That is the very reason why the scoundrel did not desire it," said 
Julien, bitterly. " I met him this morning at the Caf6 de la Paix where I 
was breakfasting. He approached the table where I was sitting, and I 
rose and left the restaurant. He could then have mentioned the robbery, 
but he took good care not to do so. He preferred, to have me arrested, 
even if he were obliged to admit the injustice of his accusation after- 
wards." 

" Doutrelaise did tell me that you were breakfasting with him when 
Monsieur Matapan entered the restaurant. Doutrelaise will mention that 
and aid me in circumventing your enemy, I am sure." 

" Doutrelaise ! " exclaimed Julien angrily. " Why he must be in league 
with my landlord. It was he who denounced me to Matapan." 

" What can you mean, my dear fellow ? " exclaimed Jacques. " Doutre- 
laise likes you ; indeed, he is devoted to you." 

" And yet he slanders me ! I repeat that he alone could have furnished 
Monsieur Matapan with the information upon which this accusation is 
founded." 

" You forget that Doutrelaise invited you to breakfast in order to lend 
yon six thousand francs which you needed. It is not his fault if you no 
longer need the money, for he has been trying to find you all day. He 



76 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

had no means of knowing that you were winning a much larger sum at the 
roulette table." 

On hearing this last remark, the commissary pricked up his ears ; but it 
was not because roulette was a forbidden game that he listened so atten- 
tively. 

" Besides, why should he wish to injure you ? " continued Courtaumer. 
"I can't tell. Perhaps because I didn't encourage the pretensions he 
had the assurance to disclose to me." 
" Pretentions 1 You astonish me." 

" He was inclined to undertake the defence of — a certain person whom 
he was bound to respect — he had no right to notice the foolish remarks 
made by Monsieur Bourleroy. I told him as much." 

"You will never convince me that Doutrelaise was incensed by such a 
trifle. Besides, what can he have said to Matapan against you ? " 

" Gentlemen," said the commissary forestalling Julien, who was about 
to reply, " I feel it my duty to warn you that if the magistrate asks me to 
repeat the conversation which took place in my presence, I shall be obliged 
to do so, even if it be likely to establish the guilt of the prisoner." 

"I thank you for your warning, sir," said young Calprenede, quickly, 
"but I have nothing to conceal, and I wish my friend to know how Mon- 
sieur Doutrelaise has acted, and how it happens that I owe my arrest to 
him. The story won't be a long one, and I shall be perfectly willing to 
tell it in the presence of the magistrate who is to examine me." 

" Good ! " thought Jacques. " He is not afraid to explain, so he is in- 
nocent." 

"But take care," insisted the commissary. "Magistrates are suspici- 
ous, and they have cause to be. When a prisoner repeats several times i, 
story that exonerates him, they are strongly inclined to suspect him of 
having invented it for his defence." 

" That's true," thought Jacques. "The idea did not occur to me, but I 
sec the justice of it now. This poor fellow is, perhaps, going to recite a 
lesson learned by heart." 

"I am telling, and I shall tell, nothing but the truth. So much the 
worse for those who refuse to believe me," said Julien. 

" If he were guilty, he would not be so proud," again thought Courtau- 
mer, this time a trifle reassured. 

" And I declare that Doutrelaise's gossip has been the cause of all this 
trouble. This morning, at breakfast, he showed me an opal surrounded by 
diamonds, which he declared he had wrested from the grasp of a man 
whom lie nut on the staircase, in the dark, last night, and he also told ine 
that this man had entered the apartment in which I live." 

"Did he say this in Monsieur Matapan's presence?" asked Jacques, 
greatly surprised. 

' ' No ; Monsieur Matapan came in a little later ; I left as soon as he ap- 
proached us. I don't know what was said afterwards, but the opal was 
lying on the table. Matapan must have seen it, and if a necklace of 
similar stones has really been stolen from him, he, of course, recognised the 
jewel. He probably asked Monsieur Doutrelaise how he came by it, and 
-Uoutrelaise repeated his story." 

w^^V 10 , 11 '* un( ?erstand how this can be. I was in the Champs-Elysees 

about hhS" 6 a ! T °. Cl ° ck 'J 1 * 8 afte ™°<». «nd he did not say a word 

" H^probabW^n.tf", 1 '"' °f. hi « ^"Prsation with Monsieur Matapan. 

■ne probably did not feel inclined to boast about what he had done." 



THE MATArAN AFFAIR. 77 

"I shall see him this evening, and will ask him to explain. But why 
should Monsieur M.itapan have entered a complaint against you on such a 
slight foundation? Merely because the man who stole his necklace entered 
your rooms he concludes that you are the man ? Why the thief probably 
had skeleton keys to open every door in the house, and he probably entered 
your apartment for the same purpose as he entered Matapan's — to steal 
anything of value that he could find." 

" And this is not the first time that my room has been entered. I am 
satisfied that the same thing has happened several times already, and always 
at nirjht time, though I have missed nothing." 

" You must inform the magistrate who examines you of that, and you 
must tell him that you won to-day — how much was it ? — eighteen thousand 
francs, I think." 

' ' Yes, or thereabouts. The authorities won't take offence at that I sup- 
pose." 

" No, but they might be astonished to find that you still had so much 
money in your possession after paying eleven thousand francs at the club." 

"This gentleman is right," said the commissary, who had not lost a word 
of this dialogue. " It will be necessary for you to explain how you came 
into possession of any large amount, for persons might suppose that it came 
from a different source." 

" What business is it of theirs, in any case ? " 

" Excuse me, but you will find it necessary to prove that the sum about 
you was not realised by selling the necklace stolen from Monsieur Matapan." 

" On the contrary, the magistrate will have to prove that I have sold or 
pawned that necklace." 

"What you say is true theoretically," replied the commissary, shaking 
his head ; "but you will make a great mistake in not proving your inno- 
cence, if you have the means of doing so. And I advise you to begin by 
giving the address of the gaming establishment where you won eighteen 
thousand francs. It will be easy to verify your statement, and if it is 
found to be true, one grave charge that people will make against you will 
fall to the ground." 

"The place is not licensed," replied Julien, " and I see no reason why I 
should denounce the person who keeps it." 

" What 1 " exclaimed Courtaumer, "you would compromise yourself to 
avoid compromising an ex-croupier ? Allow me to tell you that this would 
be folly." 

" I will decide what I shall do when I am called before the magistrate," 
replied Julien, drily. 

Jacques, incensed by this response, resolved to say no more. He was no 
longer fully convinced of Julien's innocence, and he thought of the pro- 
bable consequences of this unfortunate affair with dismay. "My aunt will 
be horrified, " he said to himself; "his father will die of grief, and his sister 
—Heaven only knows what will become of her ! And pcor Doutrelaise, 
who is so madly in love with the girl, he is in a nice fix now ! It is true, 
though, that Monsieur de la Calprenede may look upon the match more 
favourably, for after such a catastrophe it won't be easy to find a husband 
for her." 

The vehicle was rolling along very swiftly, and had already reached the 
Pont-Xeuf, which is not far from the prefecture. Courtaumer felt that he 
had one more duty to perform in connection with his unfortunate com- 
panion. 



78 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" My dear fellow," he began, " you must now tell me what I can do for 
you. I must first inform your father, must I not ? " 

"Just as you choose," replied Julien ; " there will be plenty of persons 
ready to do so if you dislike this painful duty." 

"It would be much better for Monsieur de la Calprenede to learn the 
misfortune that has befallen you through me, and I know where to find 
him this evening. At this moment he must be at the house of my aunt, 
who is devoted to your family, and who may be of service to you, for she 
can see my brother, and ask him to, speak to the magistrate entrusted with 
the investigation." 

" I thank you, but— " 

" We are approaching the prefecture, sir," the commissary interposed, 
addressing Jacques. " You had better alight now." And as he spoke, he 
pulled the bell, and the driver checked his horses. 

The detective, who r*,d been sitting on the box, /low sprang down to 
open the door. Courtaumer, wounded by Julien's manner and language, 
bade him good-bye rather coldly, thanked the commissary, and alighted. 
" Ah ! " he murmured, as he stood watching the vehicle that was bearing 
young Calprenede away to prison, " the poor fellow is in a pitiable plight, 
from which he will never extricate himself, I fear. And to think that my 
aunt wished me to marry his sister ! " 



VII. 

Adkien, the elder of the Courtaumers, did not resemble his brother Jacques 
either in temperament or manner. 

He seemed to have been created and placed on ea'ith to perform the 
duties of a magistrate and family man, while Jacques seemed to have been 
born to rove the seas and shun every kind of tie. Nothing is more common 
than this striking contrast between two persons of the same family, and the 
phenomenon is probably due to atavisme, a doctrine greatly in vogue just 
now. Jacques represented the paternal side of the family. In former times 
all the Courtaumers had been soldiers. Adrien, however, strongly re- 
sembled his grandmother, the daughter of a prominent Breton judge, who 
possessed all the virtues and many of the faults peculiar to the old French 
magistracy. Adrien's was a cultivated, just, but by no means liberal mind, 
an honest nature, a truthful and firm character, with a slight tendency to 
systematic obstinacy and. pessimism. 

A stern magistrate, of irreproachable private life, Madame de Vervins' 
elder nephew was not a favourite by any means. His aunt esteemed him, 
but did not love him. His brother, although really fond of him, seldom 
sought his society. His colleagues feared him, even while they did ample 
justice to his merits. 

He had married a wife sufficiently rich to insure his independence ; a 
wife educated in accordance with the rigid principles of the old Parisian 
middle classes. Their opinions harmonised wonderfully, and they led a 
secluded life which suited them perfectly. Jacques rarely intruded into 
their peaceful home, and Madame de Vervins but moderately availed 
herself of the privileges to which she was entitled by reason of her near 
relationship) : still, they were all on excellent terms. Adrien, who apprec- 
iated Jacques' good traits, forgave nearly all his faults, and he respected 
Madame de Vervins too much to find fault with her preferences or criticise 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 79 

her opinions, although they differed widely from his upon almost all 
points. For instance, the marchioness was extremely desirious that he 
should tender his resignation in order not to serve the Republican govern- 
ment which she abhorred ; but Adrien liked his profession too much to 
renounce it, not because he was ambitious, but because he had a genuine 
passion for the law. He displayed extraordinary zeal in discharging his 
duties, and his punctuality was proverbial at the Palais de Justice, for he 
not unfrequently reached his office in advance of his clerk, and sometimes 
remained long after his departure. 

On the morning after his visit to Madame de Vervins, he did not de- 
viate from his punctual habits. lie even started for the office rather 
earlier than usual, as he was anxious to begin investigating the new case 
which had been intrusted to him. He only knew what one of his col- 
leagues had told him, and what he himself had repeated to the marchioness, 
but he felt sure that it was an interesting case, and would furnish him 
with an opportunity to prove once more his remarkable talents as an 
investigator. His conversation with Madame de Vervins, and the Count 
de la Calprenede, had quieted all his scruples, and he was firmly resolved 
to discover the thief of the Boulevard Haussmann. 

On entering his office, M. de Courtaumer found his clerk busy at work 
with some papers. This clerk was an eminently respectable man, 
thoroughly acquainted with his calling, and the magistrate did not dis- 
dain to talk with him or even to ask his advice occasionally. " Bohamont," 
he began, without any further preamble, " have you heard anything about 
a new case of robbery that has just been assigned to me." 

"Yes, sir," replied the clerk, "the report is on your desk. I haven't 
yet examined it, but a commissary of police, whom I just met, told me he 
arrested the suspected party last night." 

" That's singular. My colleague, Monsieur Brizardere, told me that the 
complaint was only filed at five o'clock, and that the proofs were exceed- 
ingly vague. I am surprised that the public prosecutor did not wait until 
I had looked into the affair. Is the commissary anywhere about here just 



now 



•>» 



" Yes, sir ; he thought you would like to see him, and he is now awaiting 
your summons." 

" Let me look over the papers first," muttered M. de Courtaumer, seat- 
ing himself in his arm-chair. And he began to read half aloud, half to 
himself : ' ' Hence, from the aforesaid testimony, it would appear that 
the said — " 

Here he suddenly paused and literally bounded from his chair. The 
name he had not pronounced was that of Julien-Louis-Charles de la Cal- 
prenede. He read no further. The paper fell from his hand. The son of 
his aunt's most particular friend, arrested for theft ! and he, Adrien de 
Courtaumer, appointed to examine him ! It seemed indeed incredible. 

He thought of his visit of the previous evening. He could still see the 
count sitting quietly near the mantel-piece in the drawing-room, and hear 
the marchioness say in a careless tone: "My dear nephew, you are 
certainly attaching undue importance to a very insignificant matter. 
What possible difference can it make to Monsieur de la Calprenede whether 
you or any other magistrate examine the inmates of the house in which he 
resides ? " 

Could they have been playing a part ? But what could have been their 
object ? That he could not divine. " No, it isn't possible ! " he murmured. 



80 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" They would not have feigned ignorance of such a calamity. They knew 
nothing about it. If they had suspected that Julien was accused of the 
robbery, they would have told me. They had every interest in doing so, 
for I could, perhaps, have prevented the scandal of an arrest. But now 
that he is in prison I can do nothing. Had I been informed of the facts, 
even as late as this morning, I could have gone to my aunt to ask her 
advice again. Then there was still time to refuse the case ; but now — 
Heaven only knows what my colleagues will say of me if I excuse 
myself. 

"Besides, what pretext could I offer? I am not connected either by 
blood or marriage with the Calprenedes. I know them but slightly and 
have no good reason to offer for excusing myself. If I ventured to plead 
Madame de Vervin's friendship for the father, people would say that I 
neglected my duty as a magistrate for the sake of my personal interests, 
for everybody knows that my aunt is very rich and that my brother and 
myself are her only heirs. I had better sacrifice my chance of an inherit- 
ance than do anything to arouse suspicions that would blight my profes- 
sional career forever." 

M. de Courtaumer hereupon rose abruptly, and, to the intense surprise of 
his clerk, who had never before seen his composure in the least ruffled 
he began to pace up and down the room in great agitation. " Call the com- 
missary," he said at last, turning to his clerk who left the room to repeat 
the order to the usher on duty. 

It was scarcely necessary, for the commisary was waiting in the passage, 
in momentary expectation of the summons, and the door was scarcely opened 
when he entered the room of his own accord. 

The magistrate noticed the commissary's air of embarrassment at once. 
" Can he already know of my acquaintance with the person he arrested ?" 
Adrien said to himself, and he added aloud : 

" I have sent for you, sir, to ask the particulars of the arrest you made 
last evening." 

" I am here for the purpose of giving them, sir," replied the commissary. 
" I thought you would like to question me about the affair, although all the 
facts are narrated in my report, and I — " 

" I have not yet examined the papers. I only glanced at the warrant, 
and saw the name of the accused. " 

" A very honourable name, unfortunately. But you desire the details. 
Yesterday evening, at about six o'clock, I received orders to arrest Mon- 
sieur Julien de la Calprenede. I went straight to his house, but did not 
find him there, and I continued my search in vain for a part of the evening, 
although the places frequented by the young man had been designated by 
the plaintiff. 

"A Monsieur Matapan, I believe ? " 
_ " Yes, sir ; the landlord of the house in which the Calprenede family re- 
sides. He also lives there, himself, and — " 

"What was stolen?" 

" A very valuable necklace, and he suspects the young man I arrested." 

" Upon what facts does he base his accusation ? " 

" Well, sir, it seems that a certain Monsieur Doutrelaise, an inmate of 
the house, returned home shortly after midnight, and met a man on the 
staircase. A slight struggle ensued between them, in which one of the 
opals belonging to a necklace which the man held in his hand was separ- 
ated from the others. This jewel remained in the possession of Monsieur 



THE MATA.PAN AFFAIR. 81 

Doutrelaise, and cm the following day he showed it to Monsieur Matapan, 
who at once recognised it." 

" He identified it, then? And did Monsieur Doutrelaise recognise the 
calprit?" 

" No, sir ; the hall was not lighted, but he heard Monsieur de la Cal- 
prenede enter the suite of apartments occupied by the count, his father." 

'' But that is no proof." 

" No, certainly not ; but it is at least a strong presumption of his guilt." 

" But if there was nothing more than this mere indication, it seems 
strange to me that the arrest of Monsieur de la Calprenede should have 
been so speedily ordered," said the magistrate, who began to think undue 
haste had been displayed. " Have you questioned the young man ? What 
is your opinion ? " 

"I thought at first that he was innocent. He was not in the least 
troubled when I told him that I had come to arrest him, and he made no 
attempt to prove his innocence ; he even tried to lord it over me. How- 
ever, I changed my mind during the drive from the club to the dep6t, for 
I forgot to tell you, sir, that I arrested him at the club to which he belongs." 

" The place was badly chosen," said M. de Courtaumer. "Monsieur de 
la Calprenede belongs to an honourable family, and you should have avoided 
any unnecessary publicity." 

" There was none, sir; I sent for him to come to the visitors' parlour. 
He did so, and although he at first refused to follow me, he finally entered 
a vehicle that was awaiting me in the street, without making the slightest 
resistance." 

"And during your drive you ceased to believe in his innocence ? Why?" 

" On account of certain remarks that he made. He pretended that he 
had won eighteen thousand francs at roulette. It struck me at once that 
he said this to explain why he was in possession of a large sum of money 
which he had about him. When he was searched, six thousand six hundred 
francs in bank-notes were found in his pockets, and he had just paid eleven 
thousand francs that he owed — that is five thousand to the treasury of his 
club, and six thousand to a gentleman who had won that amount from him 
at cards." 

"And you think that this money — " 

"Is the price of the necklace stolen from Monsieur Matapan. The 
young man hadn't a penny the evening before, and there was a talk of 
expelling him from the club on account of his indebtedness. The next day 
he scatters thousand franc-notes like chaff. Where did he obtain them ? 
Roulette being a forbidden game, is only played in clandestine gambling 
establishments, and establishments of that kind, where a person gains 
large sums in a few hours, are rare. For my part, I don't believe the 
story. Besides, it is easy to verify it, for after at first refusing to designate 
the house where he had played, he finally consented to do so. I convinced 
him that it would be an important point in establishing his innocence, and 
then he gave me the address : No. 99 Rue du Rocher." 

" You have been there, I suppose?" 

"No, sir, not yet. This information was only given me by the accused 
at half-past eleven last night. Besides, I was waiting for orders from you. 
If this establisnment is really in existence, it must be broken up, and that 
is an entirely different matter." 

" What of that ? You will go there at once and bring me the proprietors. 
I wish to hear their evidence to-day. Legal proceedings can be insti- 



o2 the matapan affair. 

tuted against them afterwards, if we find they have been violating the 
law." 

" Very well, sir, I will go at once. Allow me, however, before my de- 
parture, to inform you of another circumstance. When I saw the accused 
at the club he was accompanied by a friend." 

" And you spoke of the arrest you were ordered to make in the presence 
of this friend ? " 

"I was obliged to do so, sir, in order to avoid a still greater scandal. 
Monsieur de la Calprenede would not have consented to remain alone with 
me, and to compel him to do so, I should have been obliged to ask the 
assistance of the officers who were waiting. Besides, I have no cause to 
repent having acted as I did, for the friend joined me in urging the young 
man to accompany me, and had it not been for his arguments I should 
certainly have failed in my efforts. So I did not think it at all out of the way 
to allow him to enter the vehicle that conveyed the prisoner to the dep6t." 

" That was against the rules." 

" 1 know it, but the gentleman told me that his name was Jacques de 
Courtaumer," replied the commissary, timidly. 

" My brother 1 " exclaimed Adrien in surprise. 

" Yes, sir. I did not then know you were to have charge of the case. 
I only learned it this morning, and came here expressly to inform you of a 
circumstance of which I thought you ought not to remain in ignorance." 

" Thank you," stammered the magistrate, overwhelmed with consterna- 
tion by this revelation. 

He had been quite ignorant that his brother was on such friendly terms 
with Julien de la Calprenede, and he asked himself what course he ought 
to pursue, now that the commissary and his clerk knew that the prisoner 
he was to examine was his brother's friend. On reflection, he decided that 
this was still another reason why he should not draw back, for what would 
his subordinates think of him if he gave up the case now? " My brother 
belongs to the same club as Monsieur de la Calprenede," he remarked after 
a time, in a voice which had ceased to falter, "and he would, of course, 
show him this mark of interest ; but he is not, and has never been, his 
friend." 

"Oh, I could see that," replied the commissary. " Your brother only 
did what he was obliged to do for the unfortunate young fellow. Among 
people of the prisoner's rank, a certain observance of etiquette is absolutely 
necessary. But your brother's manner was only' coldly polite, and it was 
evident that he was not at all sure of his companion's innocence." 

" My brother's opinion does not concern or affect me, and I am going to 
question the accused immediately. Have him sent for, before you start 
for the Rue du E,ocher for the man who keeps the gambling establishment 
there. I intend to hear him to-day, for his evidence will be of great import- 
ance. I shall also hear the plaintiff and Monsieur Doutrelaise. You will 
therefore warn these two witnesses, and bring them to me at the earliest 
possible moment. " 

The commissary bowed and then immediately left the room. 

Adrien de Courtaumer had discharged his duty as a magistrate, and he 
intended to do so until the end. He was not obliged to wait long for the 
prisoner, whom he had decided to examine regardless of their mutual ac- 
quaintances. The Prefecture De'pot adjoins the Palais de Justice, and 
persons have only to cross the courtyard of the Sainte-Chapelle to reach the 
offices of the examining magistrates. Thus a quarter of an hour had not 



TUE MATAPAN AFPA1JI. 83 

Sim^? 10 ! connni^ary's departure, ami M. de Courtaumer was still 
Foll^edVaPadrguani: 001 "' ^ JuUen d ° U CaI P™ M ° c "^d «> 

The magistrate, who had not expected him so soon, stopped short, and 
then retreated towards his arm-chair. One must be seated to investigate 
a criminal case ; and Adrien de Courtaumer deemed it of primary import- 
ance to show Julien de la Calprenede that he was in the presence of a 
magistrate. However, Julien did not give him time to reach his arm- 
chair, but rushed towards him, with his eyes flashing and his cheeks 
crimson with excitement. "Ah ! it is you, sir," he exclaimed impetuously. 
" You know me, and yet you have me dragged here as if I were a thief I " 

The magistrate, with unruffled composure, seated himself at hia desk, 
and pointed to a chair ; whereupon Julien vehemently continued : " Was 
it by your orders that I was handcuffed to be brought from the prison to 
your office ? " 

" No," replied M. de Courtaumer, calmly ; " it is a precaution generally 
adopted to prevent persons from escaping. The courtyard of the Sainte- 
Chapelle is a public thoroughfare — " 

" And I might have there recognised some of my father's or the 
Marchioness de Vervins' friends. But I could not have told them that I 
was being taken before Monsieur de Courtaumer, for it had not occurred to 
me that you would conduct my examination." 

' ' The case was assigned to me. I must do my duty, however painful it 
may be." 

' ' Was it Madame de Vervins who advised you to accept it ? " 

" 1 ask for no advice when a question of duty is involved," severely 
replied the magistrate, who was incensed by the tone and manner which 
the unfortunate young fellow had adopted. " You know the crime of 
which you are accused. Sit down and answer the questions I am going to 
put to you." 

Julien spurned with his foot the chair generally used by prisoners, 
folded his arms, and scornfully rejoined : "Answer you ! I would perhaps 
consent to answer a magistrate who did not belong to the same rank and 
circle as myself, because I might feel that he would be impartial ; but what 
good would it do for me to reply to you ? It is evident that you think me 
guilty, for you would not expose yourself to the danger of subsequently 
meeting in some drawing-room, a man whom you had been obliged to 
release after doing all in your power to ruin him. You can question me, 
but you will learn nothing." 

This language amazed M. de Courtaumer, who was prepared for any- 
thing but a point-blank refusal to reply. He did not know Julien de la 
Calprenede. He was entirely ignorant of his peculiar disposition, his at 
once proud and violent nature, which would brook no restraint of any kind. 
He did not know that Julien only obeyed his passions, and that at the age 
of twenty-two he had not a single friend whom he had not offended in some 
fit of anger. Any magistrate would naturally be inclined to consider such 
a refusal to defend oneself as a mere scheme on the prisoner's part, and so 
M. de Courtaumer regarded it. "I cannot compel you to speak,' he said, 
coldly, " but I can compel you to listen to me. I will first read the charge 
that has been brought against you." . 

" That is quite unnecessary, I know it. I am accused of having stolen a 
necklace from Baron Matapan ; and this absurd accusation is founded upon 
the testimony of a certain Monsieur Doutrelaise." 



84 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" You will be brought face to face with them." 

" Very well. I shall tell Monsieur Doutrelaise that he is a fool, and 
Monsieur Matapan that he is a scoundrel." 

" You will not exonerate yourself by insulting them." 

" I am not trying to exonerate myself. It is for you to prove that I am 
guilty." 

" It is also my duty to tell you that you are adopting a very unwise 
course. I am also anxious to assure you that I have formed no unfavour- 
able opinion of you. If you were calmer, you would already have become 
conscious that I am not acting as I have a right to act with you. I am not 
examining you, but merely talking with you ; and my clerk, you see, is 
not taking down either my questions or your replies." 

" I do not care in the least what he writes." 

"I will also add that I have decided to allow the matter to rest for 
to-day. I wish to give you time for reflection. Two days hence, I will 
hear the witnesses I have summoned, and recall you. You must decide, in 
the meantime, whether you will persist in a course that cannot fail to 
injure your cause. For the present, I will confine myself to noting your 
refusal to reply. Pray give me your name and surname." 

" You know them. It is not necessary for me to tell you." 

" This is a mere form, you know — " 

"But one to which I refuse to submit." 

The magistrate could not repress a movement of impatience, but he ab- 
stained from insisting, and turning to his clerk, said: "State that the 
accused, having refused to reply to a single one of my questions, the ex- 
amination is postponed for the present. You will afterwards make out th6 
necessary papers." 

" May I inquire what this last form means ? " inquired Julien, ironically. 

"You were only a suspected person. From this moment you are a 
prisoner." 

"Judicial language seems to abound in charming distinctions. If you 
could only succeed in making me out a felon, your success would be com- 
plete, and your promotion would doubtless follow as a matter of course.'' 

This was too much, and M. de Courtaumer's long-tried patience gave 
way. " Remove the prisoner,'" he said to the guard. 

Julien replaced the hat which he had condescended to remove on entering 
the room, and turned his back on the magistrate with this insolent fare- 
well : "Pray present my compliments to Madame de Vervins." There- 
upon he went out with head erect and flashing eyes. 

Adrien de Courtaumer sat in speechless bewilderment, and the worthy clerk 
was no less astonished. Never in his long career had he seen a man behave 
in such a manner in the presence of the magistrate who had summoned him 
for examination. "What do you think of this affair, Bohamont?" inquired 
Adrien. 

" I think that criminals are not in the habit of displaying so much 
assurance," replied Bohamont at once. 

"Then you believe the young man innocent? " 

" Sir, I don't allow myself to form an opinion as yet." 

" But don't you see that his audacity is only part of his plan of defence. 
He wishes to gain time. He flatters himself, perhaps, that the influence 
of his father, and his father's friends, will save him. He is mistaken, how- 
ever. Where are the witnesses summoned to appear this morning in the 
other case I am investigating ? Call them ; I will examine the papers in 



THE MATAPAN AFPAin. 85 

the Calprenede case after I have heard the report of the commissary sent 
to the Kue du Rocher." 

The clerk obeyed, and Adrien devoted himself conscientiously to the 
investigation of an uninteresting crime : a quarrel between several intoxi- 
cated men, one of whom had been killed on emerging from a wine-shop. 
He listened to five or six scoundrels of the lowest order, and heard the 
scene described in as many different ways, from which he had to arrive at 
the truth by questioning the witnesses adroitly ; in short, he discharged 
his by no means pleasant task in a most exemplary manner. 

He had just concluded it, when the commissary returned. "I have to 
inform you, sir," he said, " that the person mentioned as the proprietor of 
the gambling-house in the Rue du Rocher disappeared this morning." 

" What ! disappeared ? " 

" He left for Spain by the first train. His name is Sam Martin, and he 
was formerly employed at Hombourg. I asked what he was doing in 
Paris, and the house porter declared that he did not keep a gambling 
saloon. I then searched the house, but could find none of the necessary 
implements for the game of roulette. It is true, however, that the man 
may have taken them away with him." 

" It is very unfortunate that this visit was not paid last night. You had 
better telegraph, so that this fellow Martin can be arrested before he 
crosses the frontier." 

" I shall not neglect to do so ; but if you will allow me to express my 
opinion, I should say that the first thing to be done is to begin a search 
among the Paris jewellers, for I have no doubt but what the necklace has 
been sold. The story of the eighteen thousand francs won in a gambling 
saloon is a falsehood. Young Calprenede was undoubtedly acquainted with 
the ex-croupier, and knew that he intended to leave Paris, and that we 
would be unable to question him. So I am strongly inclined to think that 
the necklace has been sold. The eighteen thousand francs which the 
young man had in his possession yesterday is about the amount the orna- 
ment would bring in. Monsieur Matapan values it at from twenty-five to 
thirty thousand francs. The Mont de-Pi6t<S would not lend half that 
amount on it ; a receiver of stolen goods would not have given ten thousand ; 
and besides, to judge from the social position and antecedents of the accused 
party, it does not seem probable that he knows any of the persona to whom 
professional thieves resort under such circumstances." 

" Certainly not," murmured M. de Coartaumer. 

" That is very fortunate, for receivers of stolen goods always break up 
such ornaments, and send the jewels to foreign countries where they have 
correspondents ; while an honest jeweller would probably keep such a neck- 
lace as this on account of its rarity, and so we shall find it without any 
difficulty. Monsieur Matapan expressly states that it could not be mis- 
taken for any other, as he brought it from the Indies, where precious stones 
are mounted in a different style than in France." 

The magistrate's head drooped. He felt that it was no longer possible 
to doubt Julien de la Calprenede's guilt. " Is anything known about the 
character of the plaintiff?" he inquired, merely to conceal his embarrass- 
ment, for he attached very slight importance to the question. 

" I examined the records at the prefecture this morning, and found that 
Monsieur Matapan came to live in Paris about twelve years ago, and that 
he built the house on the Boulevard Haussmann, in which he now resides, 
shortly after his arrival. He is fifty-three years old, and unmarried. He 



86 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

purchased the title of baron in Italy, and consequently has a right to 
bear it." 

" Very well ; but where did he formerly reside ? " 

"He came from Java, I believe, where he made quite a large fortune in 
trade. He began as a captain in the merchant service. However, he was 
born on the island of Mauritius, and so he is an English subject. He leads 
a very secluded life. He occasionally calls on his tenants, but entertains 
no company. There seems to be nothing against him. Two or three times 
he has absented himself from Paris for six or eight months. He probably 
has business interests that require attention in other countries ; but he has 
not left the city during the past three years." 

" I shall know more about him after his examination," remarked M. de 
Courtaumer, ' ' and perhaps I will hear what he has to say, to-day. At all 
events, begin your search in the jewellery establishments immediately. If 
you succeed in finding the necklace, the afiair can perhaps be settled. 
Monsieur Matapan will probably abandon the prosecution if restitution is 
made ; and this would be desirable, for the young man belongs to one of our 
most respected families. You say this necklace can be easily identified ? " 

" Yes, sir, on account of the setting, and also on account of the jewels." 

" Diamonds, I believe ? " 

"No, sir; that is to say, there are diamonds, and a large number of 
them, but they are all small stones, and form the setting of thirty-two 
opals. All these details are mentioned in the plaintiffs complaint." 

" I have not yet read it. I meant to do so before questioning the 
accused, but as he refused to reply, I was obliged to send him back to the 
dep6t, as I had another case^on hand. But did you say the jewels compos 
ing this necklace were opals ? " 

" Yes, sir ; the largest and finest known, so Monsieur Matapan 
pretends." 

" That is strange," murmured the magistrate, suddenly recollecting how 
only the evening before he had seen a necklace of opals, which had 
astonished him by their extraordinary size and brilliancy, lying on the 
tea-tray at his aunt's house. When the commissary had left the room, 
Adrien again seated himself at his desk, and began to examine the papers 
relating to the case. He was particularly interested in the minute descrip- 
tion which M. Mapatan gave of the stolen article, and this description 
seemed to apply perfectly to the necklace which had sparkled on Madame 
de Vervins' tea-table the evening before. Who had taken it there ? The 
marchioness certainly had not stolen it, and if the count had been the thief 
he would not have shown the marchioness this proof of his infamy. "Good 
heavens ! " thought M. de Courtamer, suddenly, " who knows but that un- 
principled young fellow Julien has been trying to induce her to purchase 
it ? I recollect now that she told me it bad been brought to her for inspec- 
tion, and she seemed embarrassed. But, on the other hand, what was 
Monsieur de la Calprenede doing there ? Can she have sent for him to talk 
about his son's proposal ? And if that was really Monsieur Matapan 's neck- 
lace, what has she done with it ? She evidently had no suspicion that it 
was stolen ; and if Matapan learns that it is in her possession, what will 
be the result ? 1 scarcely dare think of it ! " 

M. de Courtaumer's usher brought these reflections to a sudden termina- 
tion by entering with a card, which produced an extraordinary effect upon 
his master. " My aunt," muttered Adrien ; "she here ! And she wishes 
to see me immediately. I have guessed the truth, then. She has come 



THE MATAFAN AFFAIR. 87 

to speak to mo about the necklace. Bohamont," he added, turning 
hastily to his clerk, •' I must receive ono of my near relatives who has 
culled to see me on buisuess unconnected with the profession. Your 
presence might annoy her. Go and ask for the document that is missing 
in the case of Gavard and Merlon. I will call you when I need you." 

The clerk was not ill-pleased to leave the room. He liked to smoke his 
pipe on the boulevard in front of the Palais de Justice, and he hoped to 
have time to enjoy this pleasant recreation. He quickly went out by the 
back door, just as Madame de Vervins was ushered in through the one used 
by the prisoners and witnesses. " A seat, my dear boy, and at once ! " she 
exclaimed ; " I am quite out of breath from climbing to your fourth floor. 
I am really unable to stand a moment longer." 

" I assure you, aunt, that if I had known of your intended visit, I would 
have gone to meet you," stammered the magistrate, " and if the idea of send- 
ing for me had occurred to you — " 

"And by whom ? I didn't know where to find you, and if I hadn't met 
a young lawyer crossing the courtyard, I should have been lost a dozen 
times before getting here. He is a radical, I think, but he was certainly 
very polite. He escorted me to your very door. How long is it since 
magistrates have been perched up under the eaves? This arm-chair is 
hard enough, too ! The government you serve does not treat you very well, 
my poor Adrien." 

" But, aunt, a magistrate does not serve the government." 

" Oh yes ! I know what you are going to say. But I did not come here 
to talk politics. I came — but tell me, Adrien, are there any spies here ? 
Haven't the walls ears ? " 

' ' No, aunt ; we are quite alone. I sent away my clerk a moment ago, 
and no one can hear us." 

" Then I will proceed to business. You can probably guess what I have 
on my mind." 

" You came to see me about Julien de la Calprenede, I suppose." 

" You are right." 

" When I called on you last evening to inquire if I should accept the 
investigation of a case of robbery committed in the house where Julien 
lived, I was not aware, I assure you, that this unfortunate young man 
was regarded with suspicion." 

" But I knew it," replied Madame de Vervins, quietly. 

' ' You knew it ! and you concealed it from me ? " 

" Yes. If I had told you, you would have excused yourself, and I did 
not wish you to do that ; I would rather my friend's son had to deal with 
you than with any other judge." 

' ' But, aunt, I shall be obliged to do my duty as strictly as any of my 
colleagues." 

" Your duty, your duty, you are always prating about duty. Haven't 
you your duties as a gentleman and a nephew, as well ? " 

Adrien started and frowned. He was, first of all, a magistrate, and 
Madame de Vervins had wounded him deeply. " My dear aunt," he said, 
after a moment's silence, " I entertain the most profound respect and affec- 
tion for you, and I sincerely deplore, the misfortune that has overtaken your 
friend Monsieur de la Calprenede ; but if his son is guilty, I must treat him 
pa he deserves." 

" There you are on your high horse again ! But listen to me quietly, in- 
stead of exciting yourself so unnecessarily. I admit that it is your duty to 



88 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

be impartial ; butyou will also admit that you are not forbidden to show kind- 
ness to one who is accused." 

" Kindness is a word that is capable of many interpretations ; and if you 
mean that I am to conduct the investigation in such a way as to make it 
result in the exoneration of the prisoner — " 

" What a terrible stickler you are, my poor Adrien. I shall not attempt 
to argue with you, and leaving generalities, will simply ask what has been 
done in this affair ? " 

" Young Julien has been arrested, as you have probably heard ere this." 

" Yes, so your brother informed me. He accompanied Julien to prison." 

" And he gave his name to the commissary ; he might have avoided com- 
promising himself like that." 

" You mean compromising you. Jacques isn't afraid of anything, and he 
doesn't lack the necessary courage to defend his friends when they are as- 
sailed." 

" So he is a friend of this Julien's ! " said the judge bitterly. 

"No, bat he is aware that Julien's father is my friend, and he doesn't 
desert people when misfortune overtakes them. But let's say no more on 
this subject. When do you mean to examine young Calprenede ? " 

" I have already done so, or rather I tried to, but he refused to reply ; 
and his tone and manner were so offensive that I was obliged to send him 
back to the dep6t." 

" So he was haughty and indignant? I'm glad to hear that. Not that 
I approve it, but it convinces me that he is innocent." 

" I regret to say, aunt, that I don't agree with you, and that I believe he 
is guilty of the crime of which he stands accused." 

" Upon what facts do you base this opinion ? Have you any proofs ? " 

" Not yet. I have scarcely had time to look into the affair, but appear- 
ances are certainly against him, for, within the period of two years, he has 
squandered the entire fortune he inherited from his mother." 

" A fine reason, that ! Your brother Jacques has devoted rather more time 
to the task, but he will soon arrive at a like result. Do you think Mm cap- 
able of theft ? " 

" Julien leads a very dissipated life. He gambles — " 

" So does Jacques." 

" Julien is deeply in debt, or rather he was, for he paid all his creditors 
yesterday, and people very naturally wonder where he obtained the 
money." 

" What explanation has he given ? " 

" He pretends that he won the money at a gaming establishment, the ad- 
dress of which he gave. I sent a Commissary of Police there, who states 
that the man designated as the proprietor of the place disappeared this 
morning. This, as you must admit, happened most opportunely to prevent 
me from verifying the truth of the prisoner's statement." 

" I will admit it, if you like, as I wish to pass on to another subject. Do 
you know what was stolen from this man, Matapan ? " 

The question reminded the magistrate of what he had seen the evening 
before in his aunt's drawing-room and greatly disconcerted him. " Yes, 
aunt," he replied, in considerable embarrassment. " I learnt it an hour 
ago. It was a necklace composed of opals surrounded by diamonds." 

" And you suppose that Julien sold this necklace to obtain some money ? " 
" I suppose nothing," stammered M, de Courtaumer. "I have ordered 
a search to be made in the various jewellery establishments of Paris." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 89 

" That was useless, for tho necklace will not be found there." 

" Why ? " timidly inquired Adrien, who dreaded to hear the truth. 

" Because the necklace hasn't been sold." 

" How do you know that, aunt?" 

" Why, because I am perfectly sure I have not purchased it, and be- 
cause I have it," the marchioness continued, quietly. 

"You have it?" 

" Yes. I showed it to you last night, and I have it with me now." 

As she spoke, Madame de Vervins opened a small leather case she had in 
her hand, took the necklace from it, and threw the ornament scornfully 
upon the magistrate's desk. 

It was a scene for an artist. M. de Courtaumer, as pale as death, gazing 
with an air of consternation at the opals sparkling on his papers, and his 
aunt closing her case with unruffled calmness, formed a tableau seldom seen 
in the office of an investigating magistrate. "Well, do you think that the 
boy has sold Monsieur Matapan's necklace now ? " smilingly inquired the 
marchioness. " He has not sold it, that is evident," stammered Adrien, 
"but—" 

" But he must have taken it, as I bring it to you — that is, unless you sus- 
pect me of having been the thief." 

" He certainly must have brought it to you." 

" No ; it was his father who brought it to me last evening, and he found 
it yesterday morning in the study that separates his bed-chamber from 
Julien's room." 

" That is sufficient proof of the unfortunate young fellow's guilt." 

" I don't think so. If Julien had stolen the necklace, it would have been 
to profit by the theft. He wouldn't have left it in an article of furniture 
which anybody might open, for the key was in it. And even supposing 
he had been guilty of such incomprehensible folly, he would certainly have 
returned for the necklace ; but he went out very early, and was absent the 
entire day. His father, who was searching for him everywhere, hoped that 
he would return last night ; but poor Julien was unable to do so, as he was 
spending the night in prison." 

" But how could this necklace have found its way into Monsieur de la 
Calprenede's apartment ? Some one must certainly have concealed it there." 

" It certainly did not get there unaided. Who put it there ? That is a 
mystery I intend to solve." 

" And which must be solved at any cost, for if it was not Julien — " 

" It was his father or sister, you mean. Well, Calprenede is terribly em- 
barrassed financially, but he would not commit a dishonourable act to save 
himself from starving. Besides, didn't I tell you just now that he came to 
me expressly to explain the situation and ask my advice ? As for my dear 
Arlette— " 

" No one would think of suspecting her, but the count has servants — " 

" Two honest girls incapable of taking a penny that doesn't belong to 
them. Besides, what difference does all this make ? Monsieur Matapan's 
opals have been found, so the affair is virtually ended." 

" You are mistaken, aunt," quickly replied the magistrate. "A theft 
has been committed, and the restitution of the stolen article will not stay 
the prosecution. The law is clear on that point." 

" I don't assert the contrary ; but it could scarcely be applied in all its 
rigour." 

" That is not for me to say." 



90 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" If I am not mistaken, you have the right to decide whether any further 
action shall be taken in the matter." 

" And you think I can conscientiously say that proceedings in the present 
case should be abandoned ? " 

"Why not? You have only to return the necklace to Monsieur 
Matapan, and ask him to withdraw his complaint." 

" I return the necklace? How can you propose such a thing? I won't 
touch it. It would burn my fingers. And how should I explain my 
possession of it ? " 

" You need offer no explanation. You need only say: 'It was sent to 
me ; here it is. Take it, and say no more about it. The investigation is 
ended.'" 

" Really, you have a strange idea of a magistrate's duties, aunt. How 
can you suppose the owner will be satisfied with such an explanation ? He 
will ask me where I obtained the necklace ; and if I tell him you gave it to 
me, you will be mixed up in the case, and questioned. If you, in your 
turn, are compelled to state the source from whicli it came, the admission 
that Monsieur de la Calprenede gave it to you, will be equivalent to a con- 
fession that his son is guilty. I assure you I would rather send in my 
resignation than do what you ask." 

" Upon my word ! my dear boy, that wouldn't be a bad idea to resign. 
I have been advising it for a year, and many of your colleagues have set 
you the example. But I know that your wife is not of the same opinion, 
and you are free, of course, to do as you like. All I ask is that you will 
assist me in extricating my friend Calprenede from the trying position in 
which he is placed. Return this gewgaw to its owner, and — " 

" I shall not do that, aunt, and I beg you will take it back at once." 

"I? Never! I have had enough of those wretched jewels. They shall 
never enter my house again. And by-the-way, I shall probably surprise 
you very much when I tell you that I have seen them somewhere before. I 
had an old uncle who held an official position in Malta before the Revolu- 
tion, and who was a collector of antique jewels. I believe I saw this 
necklace in his possession. Who knows but what it was stolen from him ? " 

" Not by Monsieur Matapan, certainly. He is only fifty, and my great- 
uncle died in 1S24, I believe." 

"Oh, I'm not accusing your friend Matapan ; but he had better not 
accuse Julien de la Calprenede. All that is necessary is to induce hiin to 
desist, and I depend upon you to effect this. And now I am going," added 
Madame de Vervins, rising abruptly. 

" I won't detain you, aunt, for I am expecting some witnesses ; but for 
Heaven's sake, take this necklace with you." 

" Not I ! It is safe here, and I am going to leave it. " 

" Don't you understand that you are placing me between two most dis- 
agreeable alternatives : either to confess that you have served as a thief's 
intermediary, or to lie." 

"But even if I did consent to take the necklace away with me, your 
position would be precisely the same. You have seen it, and you would 
still know where it is. Can you continue the investigation of this affair as 
if you knew no more than you did an hour ago ? Come, return the necklace, 
and persuade Matapan to let the prosecution drop. That will end the 
matter. I shall be most grateful to you, and you will have no cause to 
reproach yourself, for Julien de la Calprenede is not, cannot be a thief. 
The necklace was found in his room, it is true, but some day you will 



TTTE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 91 

ascertain that it was placed there by some one for the purpose of ruining 
him, and breaking his father's and sister's hearts." 

The marchioness was still talking when the usher cautiously entered the 
room, and whispered a few words to M. de Courtaumer, who curtly replied : 
" Let him wait." 

" Who is it? " inquired Madame de Vervins. 

" Monsieur Matapan is here. I am about to hear his testimony." 

" Very well. I will leave you, then. His coming is most opportune, 
but I have no desire to meet him. Are there two doors to your office ? " 

"Yes, aunt, I will show you the way down ; but I entreat you once more 
not to ruin my professional career." 

" I don't ask you to do anything of the kind. What do you mean ? " 

" If you insist upon my complying with your request, I swear to you that 
I shall resign my position." 

The marchioness hesitated for a moment, but after reflecting, she replied : 
" My dear Adrien, I am really very sorry, since you are so foolish as to 
care for your office, but I cannot help it. You will obey the dictates of 
your conscience, and I am sure you will act wisely. I must add that Count 
de la Calprenede is quite unaware that I have appealed to you, and the 
son knows nothing about it. He does not even know that his father has 
found the necklace. Now, you understand the exact situation. Open the 
door for me." 

Adrien bowed and conducted Madame de Vervins to the corridor, pointed 
out the staircase, and left her without adding a single word. This was true 
heroism, for his mind was made up. He had decided to submit, that is to 
say, to obey his aunt and resign his office. But a single chance of recon- 
ciling his magisterial scruples and his duties as a relative remained. If M. 
Matapan, after regaining possession of his property, would consent to drop 
the prosecution, and promise to remain silent respecting the mode of restitu 
tion, he, Courtaumer, could, without compromising himself, send in a report 
of not guilty. And as Adrien wished to conclude the matter before his clerk 
returned, he went in person to open the door for M. Matapan, who was 
waiting in another passage. He had never seen the baron, but he recognised 
him at once, for all the other persons in waiting were shabbily dressed, and 
had been summoned to appear in other cases. Matapan alone had the air 
of a gentleman. Adrien de Courtaumer asked him his name for form's sake, 
and then invited him to enter. 

M. Matapan did not even suspect that he was going to have a contest 
with the magistrate who had summoned him to give his testimony in an 
exceedingly delicate matter ; and he entered the room very well satisfied 
with himself and with his case. He expected to be received with the 
deference due to a baron, landowner, and millionaire. He also expected to 
converse with the magistrate in a familiar way, to conclusively prove Julien 
de la Calprenede's guilt in a few words, and bear away with him the agree- 
able assurance of a conviction which would avenge the insult he had re- 
ceived from the culprit's father. He knew Jacques de Courtaumer, and 
thought it quite possible that he might be related to the magistrate ; but 
he did Dot know that he was his brother, and he was also ignorant of the 
fact that these gentlemen had an aunt who was the count's most particular 
friend. 

He entered, therefore, with his head erect and a smile upon his lips, and 
yet he failed to produce a favourable impression. His lordly airs displeased 
the sagacious Adrien, who instantly conceived a rather uncomplimentary 



92 THE MATAPAN AFFAIK. 

opinion of him, and gave him a correspondingly cold reception. M. 
Matapan was not disconcerted by such a trifle, however. He bowed 
slightly and only barely escape' Itting down before he was invited to do 
so. 

" Be seated, sir," said M. de Courtaumer, pointing to a chair, and 
installing himself in his arm-chair to mark the distinction between them. 
Before admitting the witness, the magistrate had had the presence of mind 
to lock up the opal necklace in a drawer of his desk. " I believe, sir," he 
began coldiy, " that you have received a summons — " 

" Only a short time ago," interrupted Matapan, " and you see I did not 
lose a moment in obeying it." 

" My clerk is out," resumed the magistrate. " I will hear your deposi- 
tion as soon as he returns. In the meantime I have a word to say to you 
respecting the complaint you made yesterday." 

" I should like nothing better. It is much more satisfactory to discuss 
such subjects informally. Legal terms and forms only serve to complicate 
these matters." 

" Perhaps I shall be obliged to adopt the usual method finally ; but first 
of all tell me if you have any other evidence against the prisoner Calprenede 
than what is given in your complaint ? " 

" No ; but upon my word ! it seems to me that it is quite sufficient." 
M. Matapan uttered this response in a careless tone. He was well satisfied 
with the beginning of the interview. Those words: " the prisoner, Cal- 
prenede," sounded very pleasantly in his ears. 

" It seems to me rather vague," the magistrate said, coldly. 
" What 1 Why, Monsieur Doutrelaise saw the thief unlock the door of 
the apartment on the second floor : and before he saw this, he had wrested 
one of the opals of my necklace from this person's hand. He showed it to me, 
and I recognized it instantly." 

" I will hear what this witness, Doutrelaise, has to say ; but if he adds 
nothing to the facts you have just mentioned, I am compelled to warn you 
that they are by no means conclusive. Others than the prisoner might have 
entered Monsieur de la Calprenede's apartment." 

" Undoubtedly. In the first place, there is the count himself, and then, 
the two servant girls who are in his employ. I don't speak of his daughter, 
for I don't suppose she wanders about the staircase in the dark. But the 
son leads a very dissipated life, and as his father hasn't a penny, he borrows of 
everybody. He owes me four thousand francs. He committed this robbery 
to pay his debts." 

" Then he has been very stupid. To rob a creditor in order to pay him, 
would be the height of folly. You would be sure to ask yourself if the 
money he had repaid you hadn't some mysterious connection with the 
robbery of which you had been the victim." 

' ' Bah ! he thought I should not discover the loss of my necklace for some 
time. As I have already remarked, I merely learned the truth oy chance. 
The necklace is usually locked up in my safe with my other valuables. I 
don't take it out three times a year. However, I aid so on the preceding 
day in order to show it to one of my friends, and I left it in an open 
drawer. " 

" An excellent reason why the prisoner should imagine you would think 
of it the next day." 

" Ah! so you are defending him, then ! The lawyer who pleads his 
cause will talk in the very same way as you. " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 93 

" And you, sir, forget you are speaking to a magistrate," retorted Adricn, 
curtly. 

" Excuse me, but you told me that we were to talk together informally. 
The moment you become a magistrate again everything is changed. I will 
wait until your clerk returns before answering." 

Adrien bit his lip. He saw too late that he had made a mistake in 
rebuking Matapan, richly as the latter deserved it. That was not the way 
to induce him to consent to the compromise which Madame de Vervins 
desired. " I thought it only right, sir," he rejoined, " to mention one of 
the arguments that the counsel for the defence will present if this case 
should come before the Assizes. There are others which I will not refer 
to, but which will certainly produce a great effect upon the jurors, and 
make it extremely difficult to secure the prisoner's conviction. Consequently, 
it is now for you to decide whether you really care to prosecute this suit to 
the end. You certainly can have no grudge against a respectable family 
that would have great cause to deplore such a scandal." 

'' Oh, not the slightest, " replied M. Matapan, shrugging his shoulders. 
" These people have been tenants of mine during several years. I don't 
visit them because I have no great fondness for the nobility in general ; but 
I have no cause whatever to complain of them. If they had annoyed me in 
any way, I should ha\re given them notice to quit ; but I have let them 
remain, though I feel some uneasiness about the next payment of my rent. 
However, I have suffered a serious loss. The article stolen from me is 
worth at least thirty thousand francs, to say nothing of its value artistically. 
There is no necklace in Europe like it, and I am very anxious to recover it. 
Au investigation may enable us to discover what has become of it ; but if I 
do not succeed in finding it, I shall at least have the satisfaction of knowing 
that the scoundrel who took it will be punished." 

" Granted ; but what if it should be returned to you ? " 

' ' That would change the aspect of affairs entirely. But, unfortunately, 
it will not be returned. It may, perhaps, be found at the pawnbroker's or 
at some jeweller's, but in that case I shall be obliged to pay a large sum 
to redeem or re-purchase it, and the father, who has lost everything, will 
never repay me." 

" But if you could regain possession of it without any outlay, would you 
withdraw your complaint ? " 

M. Matapan reflected, looking at the magistrate as if trying to read his 
thoughts and discover his motive in asking this question. '' I might pernapa 
withdraw it," he replied, " but it would depend entirely on circumstances. 
If, for instance, these Calprenedes would confess that the theft had been 
committed by one of the members of their family, and if, after this confession, 
they entreated me not to ruin the heir to the title — well, in that case, as I 
don't desire the death of the sinner — I would be magnanimous, I think." 

" There is no probability of such an avowal. The prisoner has made no 
confession, and I don't think he will. My suppositious case was entirely 
different— -one of anonymous restitution, for example ; a case in which the 
thief, who is a prey to remorse, returns the necklace." 

" Such things never happen. I don't believe in remorse ; I only believe 
in interest. No one ever makes restitution unless it is to his interest to do 
so. But that wouldn't matter, provided it was returned. I should be 
delighted to regain possession of my necklace, I assure you." 

" Then, if some one offered to return it to you on condition that you 
would allow the investigation to drop, would you accept the offer ? " 



94 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" I don't say no, but if I allowed the investigation to drop before 1 
obtained my opals, I should run a great risk of never seeing them again." 

" Of course the restitution would precede the withdrawal of your com- 
plaint." 

" But how can an arrangement of this kind be effected ? I fancy that 
the law would not sanction any such compromise." 

" Justice might sanction it, as there would De no necessity of continuing 
the suit if the complaint was withdrawn." 

" You present the affair in a new light," murmured Matapan, with feigned 
hesitation. " I am not an unfeeling wretch by any means. What do I 
ask, after all ? Only to recover my own property — " 

Adrien de Courtaumer eagerly seized his opportunity. " That assuranca 
suffices, sir," he exclaimed. "Here is your necklace. Will you identify 
it ? " And as he spoke, he opened a drawer, took out the necklace, and 
handed it to M. Matapan. 

" This is indeed my necklace," cried the baron, after examining it closely. 
His face brightened, his eyes sparkled, and the hands that held the opals 
trembled visibly. 

Was it joy at the recovery of a family heirloom that produced this extra- 
ordinary emotion ? M. de Couitaumer believed so. " Now, sir," said he, 
" the affair is ended. You have only to write out a formal announcement 
of the withdrawal of your complaint. You will find all the necessary 
writing materials on my clerk's desk. Address your letter to the public 
prosecutor, and I will attend to the rest. " 

" By that, you mean the release of the prisoner, do you not? " inquired 
M. Matapan, looking anything but pleased. 

"The complaint being withdrawn, and the evidence not of a nature to 
render an investigation necessary, I shall send in a report stating that the 
charge is not sustained. The prisoner's release will follow, as a matter of 
course." 

" And this interesting young man will be restored to the bosom of his 
noble family ? " said the baron, with almost threatening irony. " He will 
get off with spending a night in a cell — an amusing adventure to relate to 
his companions at a midnight supper. His escapade hasn't cost him dear 
by any means." 

" There is nothing to prove that he did steal the necklace from you," 
quickly rejoined M. de Courtaumer. 

" On the contrary, there is everything to prove it. You have only to 
look at the necklace. An opal is missing from it ; the same one that 
Monsieur Doutrelaise wrenched off in his encounter with the prisoner 
Calprenede." 

" Or with some other person." 

" Was it some other person who intrusted this necklace to you ? Name 
the person, so that I can thank him as he deserves." 

" I have nothing to say to you on that subject." 

" Not to me, perhaps, but how about those who have a right to question 
you ? You will be obliged to give an account to magistrates superior to 
you in rank." 

" I am only accountable to my conscience." 

" Mine would certainly reproach me severely if I insured a criminal's 
pardon and safety through a feeling of mistaken kindness. " 

" Which means that you intend to persist in your charge, I suppose," 
remarked M. de Courtaumer, turning pale. 



THE MATArAN AFFAIR. 95 

" Exactly." 

" But you just now promised to withdraw it." 

" That I absolutely deny. You have been asking me all sorts of crafty 
questions, and I have answered with words that meant nothing. 1 wished 
to discover what you were aiming at, so I pretended to adopt your opinions. 
But I promised you nothing. You are mistaken about that — unfortunately 
lor you." 

" This language, sir — " 

" Oh, you had better not lose your temper, you will be sorry for it, if you 
do. If you go too far, I shall have an interview with your superiors, and 
ask them what they think of a magistrate who, to save a guilty prisoner 
from punishment, offers to return to the plaintiff the article stolen from 
him, on conditions that he will refrain from prosecuting the thief. I am 
curious to know what these gentlemen will think of the bargain you have 
tried to make with me — for it was a bargain — my necklace against the 
liberty of a young scoundrel, in whoso escape you are interested, though I 
don't know why. What would you have done with this necklace if I had 
absolutely refused to drop the prosecution, instead of intentionally misleading 
you by my answers ? Did you intend to keep it, knowing all the while that 
it belonged to me ? " 

Adrien de Courtaumer was pale with anger, but he restrained his wrath, 
and had sufficient self-control not to interrupt M. Matapan. Pie wished to 
know how far the baron would dare to go. " Whatever your answer might 
have been, sir," he coldly remarked, " I should have returned this necklace 
to you. You know that very well, and no one will doubt it for a moment, 
even if you relate what has passed between us. You are quite at liberty to 
persist in your charge ; I am equally at liberty to set such value upon it as 
I think proper, and to decide as my sense of right may dictate." 

" That is true ; but I defy you now to state that there are no just grounds 
for supposing the prisoner guilty of the crime with which he is charged. It 
was his father, or one of his relatives who returned the stolen article, and 
it would almost seem as if you were in league with them. " 

This time M. de Courtaumer's patience deserted him, and he was in 
danger of forgetting that he was a magistrate, when his clerk fortunately 
entered by the rear door. The appearance of this placid subordinate 
instantly calmed Adrien and put an end to the baron's insolence. M. de 
Courtaumer took advantange of the diversion to terminate the interview, 
and also to take some precautions against the dishonesty of his unscrupulous 
adversary. "I don't doubt, sir," he said, again turning to the baron, 
" but what this necklace belongs to you, but you must understand that I 
cannot restore it until the fact has been proved. It must be deposited at 
the clerk's office, and it is there that you will be obliged to identify it. 
Will you return it to me ? " 

Matapan hesitated. Before relinquishing his precious opals, he was 
anxious to ascertain if the magistrate had been really authorised to return 
them to him. "Is this gentleman your clerk?" he inquired, pointing to 
Bohamont, who was already engaged in mending his pen. 

"Yes," replied M. de Courtaumer ; "but to-day he has only to record 
the deposit of the stolen article, a deposit which will be made immediately. 
To-morrow you will undoubtedly receive another summons — next time as a 
witness Now you may retire." 

Matapan saw that it would be useless to insist any further. The clerk 
had seen the necklace, and had heard the magistrate say that this necklace 



96 



TtlE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 



was the one which had been stolen. M. de Courtaumer had even added 
that the investigation would be resumed the next day ; so he certainly had 
no intention of reporting that there was nothing to sustain the charge 
against the prisoner. " Here is the necklace, sir," replied the baron, at 
last. "lam at your service whenever it may please you to give me a 
hearing. I have the honour to bid you good-morning." Thereupon he 
laid the necklace on the desk, and left the room without another word. 
He had said his say, and he departed triumphant. To regain possession of 
his jewels, and to take away with him the assurance that the name of 
Calprenede would be covered with ignominy, was far more than he had 
dared to hope. 

Adrien de Courtaumer was cheered by no such feeling of triumph. He 
had been defeated, ignominiously defeated, in his conflict with the baron, 
and he made no attempt to deceive himself. The unfortunate young fellow 
whom he had desired to save out of regard for Madame de Vervins, was not 
only lost beyond redemption, but he, the blameless, irreproachable 
magistrate, had placed himself in a hopeless dilemma by his generosity. 
He would neither tell a falsehood, nor betray his aunt's secret ; so there was 
nothing for him to do now but abandon the case. Nor would that satisfy 
his sensitive conscience. He said to himself that he was the representative 
of justice, and that if he did his duty conscientiously and fully, he would 
be obliged, even if he resigned, to expose all who had served as inter- 
mediaries in this unfortunate attempt at restitution. 

" Bohamont," he abruptly remarked to the clerk who was darting furtive 
glances at the necklace, " you can send away any other witnesses who may 
present themselves. I am going out now." 

" kShall I tell them to call to-morrow J " inquired the worthy man, greatly 
astonished. 

" No ; you will wait for my successor's orders." 

" AVhat ! sir, you are going to abandon the case.' 

" I am going to resign my office altogether. Take this necklace and 
accompany me to the office where I am going to deposit it. The usher can 
send away any witnesses who call." 

Bohamont was completely bewildered, but he obeyed without venturing 
any further remarks. He picked up M. Matapan's opals with a timid hand, 
wrapped them carefully in a copy of the Gazette des Tribunaux, and waited 
in silence. M. de Courtaumer had seated himself at his desk, where he 
was writing a letter, which read as follows* "My dear Aust : — The 
accuser of your friend's son refuses to withdraw his charge even if the 
stolen property is restored to him. I have done what you desired, and 
can do no more. The only thing left for me now is to resign my position. 
The keeper of the seals will receive my resignation to-morrow. It shall 
never be said that a Courtaumer failed to do his duty. I hope that this 
sacrifice will prove of advantage to the unfortunate young man in whom 
you take so deep an interest, and I need not assure you that I remain ever 
your devoted and respectful nephew." He signed this with a firm 
hand, sealed and addressed it, and then rose and told his clerk to follow 
him. 

But it was not without a pang of regret that he left the office he would 
never enter again. It seemed to him that his life was ended. In his secret 
heart he bitterly anathematised Julien de la Calprenede ; and he did not 
even take away with him the consolation of being able to tell himself that 
his resignation would save his aunt from a bitter disappointment, for he 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 97 

knew only too well that all his colleagues would understand why he had 
tendered it. 

VIII. 

That same morning Albert Doutrelaise, who, the night before, had gone to 
bed almost reassured respecting the fate of Arlette's brother, was apprised 
scarcely an hour after waking up, of the sad news of his arrest. He had 
spent the previous day and most of the evening in looking for Julien, and, 
as usually happens in such cases, he had looked everywhere save in the 
place where he would have found him. He had reached the club half an 
hour after Julien left it, and had there learned two things : first, that 
Julien had insulted Anatole Bourleroy ; and secondly, that he had gone off 
with Jacques de Courtaumer. The news of the commissary's visit had not 
yet been made public, being only known to the servants, who were remark- 
ably discreet. The information Doutrelaise received was thus of a nature 
to allay his fears. He said to himself that Julien must have a quiet con- 
science since he had made a public scene with one of his creditors, and that 
Jacques must certainly have given him good advice. Doutrelaise's uneasi- 
ness about young Calprenede had been chiefly caused by the young fellow's 
strange conduct during their breakfast at the Cafe 1 de la Paix, and was con- 
sequently extremely vague. M. Matapan had not said anything very 
definite when he saw the opal on the table. His manner and language were 
of a nature to excite suspicion, it is true, but for all that, Doutrelaise could 
only indulge in conjectures, for the baron had certainly not said that the 
jewel belonged to him. Albert could not go to the Count de la Calprenede 
and ask him what had become of his son. At no time would he have 
ventured to take such a step ; and the manner in which the old nobleman 
had turned his back upon him in the Champs-Elys^es, was not calculated 
to encourage such an attempt on his part now. Accordingly he had decided 
to defer his desired explanation with Julien until the following day, resolv- 
ing to send a message in the morning, requesting him to call ; and he 
went home early so as to have plenty of time for reflection rather than 
sleep. 

He spent the night in dreaming and contemplating the light in Arlette's 
window, which was not extinguished until very late. The count returned 
home before midnight, and he talked for a long time with his daughter, but 
Julien did not come home at all, for no light was visible in his room during 
the night. 

At nine A.M., Doutrelaise was just completing his toilet, when Jacques 
de Courtaumer burst into his room like a bombshell. A glance at his 
visitor's face satisfied Albert that he was not the bearer of good news, and 
the first question he asked was : " Did you see Julien de la Calprenede last 
evening ? " 

" I saw only too much of him," replied Jacques, shrugging his shoulders. 
" Do you know that he is in prison ? " 

" In prison ! Impossible ? " 

"It is so possible that I accompanied him there — at least to the door 
He was arrested at the club, and, as I happened to be with him at the time, 
I did not like to desert him." 

" You were very kind." 

" Oh, I'm none the worse for it. I wished to learn the facts of the case, 
and now I know them. There is no hope whatever for the young fellow. 

D 



98 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

He has fallen into the water, and I sha'n't undertake to fish him out. The 
task would be too difficult — besides, it has no attractions for me." 

"What is he accused of ? " inquired Doutrelaise, greatly excited. 

" Of having stolen an opal necklace from Baron Matapan. By the way, 
that gentleman strikes me as being more like an adventurer than a baron. 
I haven't much confidence in a man who collects jewels and is acquainted 
with Chinese pirates. But the necklace has unquestionably been stolen 
from him, and he has entered a complaint, as he has a perfect right to do." 

" And Julien has been arrested on this charge ! What evidence is there 
against him ? " 

"You ask me that ! Why, you furnished it. You told Matapan that 
you had a tussle on the stairs in the dark, with a man who was wandering 
about with a necklace in his hand, that you wrested an opal from him, and 
that you afterwards heard the man enter the count's apartments. Is it true, 
yes or no, that you told the baron this story ? He even declares that you 
showed him the jewel." 

" Yes, it is true." 

" Then, to speak frankly, I am surprised that you did not display more 
discretion. Why should you, who are so madly in love with Mademoiselle 
de la Calprenede, tell Monsieur Matapan about a nocturnal adventure which 
so gravely compromises this young girl's brother ? " 

' ' I did not know that the opal belonged to him — I did not show it to him 
— he recognised it on the table where I had laid it while talking with Julien, 
As luck would have it, he entered at the very moment I — " 

" No matter ; but you must allow me to tell you that you have acted 
like a simpleton. Nor shall I conceal the fact that you have made an enemy 
of Julien. He considers you to be the cause of his misfortunes," 

" He misjudges me like that ? " exclaimed Doutrelaise, sadly. 

" Oh, you needn't be inconsolable. Julien is no longer numbered among 
honest men. But you will be compelled to repeat the story of your adven- 
ture, and even to swear to it ; for you will certainly be summoned as a 
witness. " 

" I shall refuse to testify." 

" That would make matters even worse. Your refusal would alone 
furnish sufficient grounds for Julien 's conviction. People would at once say 
that you were in league with him. However, you won't have to deal with 
a harsh judge, for my brother Adrien is investigating the affair." 

" Your brother? Really, that's fortunate. _ You can see him before he 
examines Julien, and tell him there is some mistake, that Julien isn't guilty 
although appearances may be against him." 

" I shall take good care not to do anything so foolish. You don't know 
my brother. He is a positive fanatic as regards his profession ; besides, 
nothing would be so likely to prejudice him against a man as for me to 
praise him. However, Monsieur de la Calprenede will have a much better 
advocate, my aunt, whose wishes are entitled to consideration for many 
reasons. My brother and I are her heirs. " 

"Madame de Vervins ! But, how can she have heard of the charge 
against Julien so soon ? " 

"It was I who told her. I had promised to take tea with her last 
evening, but did not go for the very good reason that young Calprenede 
requested me to accompany him to the depot. After this delightful ex- 
pedition, I returned to the club, and was greatly surprised to learn that my 
aunt had. been there asking for me. I hurried to her house, but was unable 



TIIE MATAPAN AFFAIR. Oil 

to siie her — she had gone to bed ; she never retires later than eleven o'clock. 
To make up for it, she gets up at sunrise, and this morning she sent for me 
even before daybreak. I told her everything, and I was surprised to see 
that she did not manifest the slightest surprise when I informed her where 
young Calprenede had spent the night. One would have sworn that she 
had been expecting the disagreeable news." 

"That's strange." 

" My dear fellow, she eaw the count last evening, and I strongly suspect 
that Julien was the subject of their conversation ; I shouldn't be surprised 
too if you had been alluded to, ior when I mentioned your name, she made 
a very significant grimace. But I couldn't get anything out of her ; in fact 
she displayed the most unusual reserve. She only told me that she would 
see my brother Adrien to-day and you may rest assured that she will de- 
fend the Calprenedes warmly." 

"Then the count must have anticipated his son's arrest," murmured 
Doutrelaise. " Does he know that Julien is in prison ? " 

"My aunt has undoubtedly notified him. Besides, such news spreads 
quickly enough, everybody in the house must know it by this time. At 
least I am sure that Mademoiselle de la Calprenede knows it, for I met her 
just now on the staircase, and her eyes showed that she had been weep- 
ing. She is astir early. I couldn't help wondering where she was 
going." 

' ' Was she alone ? " inquired Doutrelaise, making no attempt to conceal 
the emotion that his friend's announcement caused him. 

"Xo," replied Jacques, " she was accompanied by a person whom I took 
to be her maid." 

" She was probably going to chw.ch." 

" That was what I thought. Still she is very fond of her brother, ia she 
not, little as he deserves it ? " 

" I believe so." 

' ' Well, a strange idea occurred to me. I fancied for a moment that she 
was going to plead his cause with Monsieur Matapan. I thought she was 
perhaps going to ask him to withdraw his complaint." 

" Mademoiselle de la Calprenede wouldn't degrade herself by asking a 
favour of a man like that," was the quick response. 

" It seems hardly probable ; and now I think of it, she did go out. I had 
the curiosity to watch her, and I saw that she went lower than the first 
floor." 

' ' Did she recognise you when she met you ? " 

"Certainly. I bowed and she did the same; and her eyes seemed to 
say : ' 1 know that this is the friend of Albert Doutrelaise, and I am sure 
he is going to see him.' " 

" And you pretend to have read all this in a single glance ? " 

" Yes, indeed, and even more, I detected a very strong feeling of friendli- 
ness for you. I was considerably surprised at this, for I fancied that Made- 
moiselle de la Calprenede knew the story of your midnight adventure, and 
that she would be very angry with you for having unconsciously brought 
about her brother's arrest. But I know now, that she bears you no malice. 
I am never mistaken in the language of a woman's eyes, and hers said 
plainly enough : ' I wish that I could go with you to your friend. ' " 

"Your conclusion lacks common sense, and I have no faith in your 
divining powers. But this isn't the question. What do you think of 
Julien's case ? " 



100 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" I don't doubt but what he stole the necklace," replied Jacques de Court- 
aumer curtly. 

"And you think he will be convicted ? " 

" I'm absolutely certain of it." 

" Well, I'm equally certain that he is innocent." 

" It's evident that you are in love with his sister, my poor friend. Pas- 
sion bewilders the understanding. I should like to know your grounds for 
this conviction." 

' ' Facts, Julien was not in the house at the time I met the man with the 
opal necklace ; Julien did not return until later. He will prove it, and, be- 
sides, my testimony must be heard," said Doutrelaise. 

" I am surprised that you have not already been summoned to appear 
before my brother. But only a moment ago, you told me you should refuse 
to testify. " 

"I have changed my mind. I intend, on the contrary, to tell all I 
know ; I intend to say, for instance, that the man I met on the staircase 
was not, and could not be Julien. I did not see him, as I had no light, but 
I am sure he was not only taller, but stronger than Julien. He was con- 
siderably taller than I am, while Julien is a trifle shorter. Yesterday 
morning, I had the marks of five fingers about my wrist ; Julien, who has 
a woman's hand, could not have grasped mine so tightly. " 

" He is slight, that's true ; but he is excitable, like all the Calprenedes," 
remarked Jacques. 

" Besides, there is an even more convincing fact in his favour. This isn't 
the first time that his father's apartments have been entered." 

" He said something of the kind last evening while we were driving 
to the dep6t with a Commissary of Police. But do you believe the 
etory ? " 

" Yes, certainly," said Doutrelaise. 

" Whether it is true or false, Julien was wrong to tell it, for it is of a 
nature to compromise his sister." 

"Mademoiselle de la Calprenede is above the reach of calumny," replied 
Doutrelaise, warmly. 

"Granted," said Courtaumer ; "but an apartment where mysterious 
persons are coming and going at all hours of the night is not a suitable 
abode for a young girl. Fortunately, however, there is not one word of 
truth in what the youth told you. He merely invented these yarns to 
divert suspicion. Besides, what object could these pretended intruders 
have ? Julien says they have taken nothing. His father isn't supposed to 
possess a well filled money-box, and if there was anything to attract 
thieves to the house, it would rather be in the apartments of this fellow 
Matapan, who is said to be rolling in wealth." 

" Yes, he is certainly wealthy, and his wealth makes him exceedingly 
presumptuous," said Doutrelaise. " Do you know the extent of his insol- 
ence ? He had certain views respecting Mademoiselle de la Calprenede. 
Jn fact, he wanted to marry her. " 

"At his age? Is he mad? Ugly as he is ! " 

" No, he isn't mad ; he is only ambitious. His fortune doesn't give him 
access to the society which would gladly open its doors to the Count de la 



Calprenede's son-in-law, 
" That's true. Then 
md and been refused ? 
"No one has told me so, but I am sure of it, 



"That's true. Then you think he has asked for Mademoiselle Arlette's 
hand and been refused ? ' 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 101 

" And it would be for the sake of revenge that he brought this charge 
against Julien ? A false charge to your idea." 

" That man is capable of any crime." 

" You didn't always have such a bad opinion of him, it seems to me. 
Only yesterday you were talking familiarly with him in a restaurant." 

" I didn't know his real character then ; but I understand it now." 

Courtaunier was about to raise some new objections, when Albert's valet 
entered on tiptoe to tell his master that a lady wished to see him. " A 
closely veiled lady, sir," he said ; " however, I fancied I recognised her." 

"A veiled lady! Positively an adventure!" murmured Jacques de 
Courtaunier. 

"Why don't you tell me her name, if you know who she is?" asked 
Doutrelaise, impatiently. 

" You must excuse me if I am mistaken," replied the valet; "but it 
seemed to me this lady resembled Mademoiselle de la Calprenede." 

" Impossible ! You must be mistaken." 

" There is a very simple way of ascertaining the truth, and that is to 
admit her." 

"Did she ask to see me alone?" inquired Doutrelaise, turning to the 
servant. 

" No, sir ; she asked me if Monsieur Jacques de Courtaunier was not 
with you, sir." 

" And when she learned that I was, didn't she show a disposition to go 
away ? " interposed Jacques. 

"None at all, air. She remained." 

" Then I can stay," was Jacques' conclusion, turning to Doutrelaise, who 
said to his valet : " Ask the lady to come in." 

" Well, was I not right when I told you that I read a desire to come here 
in her eyes ? " cried Courtaumer. 

"There is nothing to prove that the visitor is Mademoiselle de la Cal- 
prenede," murmured Doutrelaise. 

" I am satisfied on that point, and you will soon be the same," added 
Jacques, lowering his voice. 

Just then the valet opened the door of the smoking-room, in which the 
two friends were sitting, and discreetly retired. A lady entered, 
heavily veiled and dressed in black. She advanced with an unfaltering 
step, and without any sign of hesitation. Young girls are not generally so 
composed in their bearing, or are they in the habit of paying morning- 
calls on unmarried gentlemen ; and yet it was really Arlette. It was not 
necessary for her to raise her veil for Albert to be convinced of that. "Ah, 
mademoiselle," he exclaimed, "how can I thank you for the honour you do 
me, and for the confidence which you display in me ? Had I known you 
wished to see me, I would have prevented a step — " 

"Which you consider rather unseemly, do you not?" asked Arlette, re- 
vealing her lovely face. "I know it is wrong for me to come here alone, 
and it was only after long hesitation that I decided to do so. But I could 
bear it no longer ; — Julien was arrested last night, and my father, who told 
me this terrible news, says things which I absolutely refuse to believe." 

"I hope he did not tell you that I was the cause of Julien's misfortunes 1 " 
exclaimed Doutrelaise, eagerly. 

" Yes, the cause — though, certainly, the unconscious cause. My father 
assured me that such was the case, and I did not know what to reply. I 
went to pray to God, and to ask Him to direct me, and it was after this 



102 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

prayer that the thought of applying to you occurred to me. On going out 
I met Monsieur de Courtaumer, and supposed I should find him here. This 
gave me more courage, and I resolved not to see my father again until I 
had spoken to you. I entreat you to tell me the whole truth. My father 
has learned a part of it from a letter written by Madame de Vervins. I 
wish to know the rest." 

" I only know what my friend Jacques has just told me. He was with 
your brother when the misfortune occurred." 

" Then it is to you, sir, that I must appeal. You are not a stranger to 
me, since you are the nephew of my father's best and oldest friend. Is 
Julien still in prison, and is he really to be tried and condemned like a 
criminal ?," 

" I cannot conceal the fact that appearances are against your brother," 
replied Jacques, sadly. "But I truly hope that he will be able to prove 
his innocence." 

" No ; he won't succeed if his friends don't help him. But you are one 
of his friends, are you not ? " 

" I am certainly yours, as well as Albert Doutrelaise's, and he is ready 
to do anything you may command. It is for you to tell us, mademoiselle, 
how you wish to dispose of us. " 

" I thank you," she replied quietly. " We three will save him." 

"Has Monsieur de la Calprenede abandoned his son?" inquired Courtau 
mer, with considerable embarrassment. 

" My father is too much overwhelmed by the blow to be able to act, and 
yet immediate action is absolutely necessary. I can only rely upon you and 
Monsieur Doutrelaise, who will, I am sure, be happy to atone for the injury 
he has unintentionally done Julien." 

" I would give my life to save him," replied Albert, warmly. 

" However, you don't know what steps to take. I do ; but I cannot act 
without your assistance. If I told you that the missing necklace was 
found in the study adjoining my brother's room, would you believe that 
Julien was guilty? " 

"It would seem almost certain," said Jacques ; " but, fortunately, this is 
only a supposition." 

" It is the truth. My father found it there." 

" Then all is lost," murmured Doutrelaise, despairingly. 

" No ; for you will prove that it was not Julien who took it." 

' ' How can we do that ? " inquired Jacques. 

"By watching for the man who has entered our rooms several times at 
night." 

' ' Ah ! " exclaimed Doutrelaise, ' ' I was certain that Julien told the truth. " 

"So he has related this extraordinary story of a nocturnal visitor to you, 
mademoiselle ? " asked Courtaumer, who was still sceptical. 

" It was only the truth. I have not seen the man, but I have heard him. 
I told my father about it, but he thought I must be the victim of my 
imagination, and still thinks so. Yesterday I was in doubt ; now, how- 
ever, I know that I was not mistaken. " 

" But what could be the object ? " 

" I don't know, I'm sure. I make no attempt to explain the mystery ; 
but I feel certain that this person will come again. I have a presentiment 
of it, and I entreat you to watch for this intruder." 

"We will detect him in the act. That is a good idea. We will carry it 
into execution this very night," said Doutrelaise. 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 103 

" Agreed 1 " cried Courtaumer. " We will hide near the staircase, and 
if this midnight rover shows himself, we will apprehend him." 

' ' But in that way, you would not succeed in capturing him. He would 
fly off on seeing you." 

" We should overtake him." 

" Perhaps so ; but in that case he would deny the charge. You couldn't 
prove that he was creeping stealthily up the stairs to enter my father's 
rooms." 

" While if we found him inside the apartments, he would be obliged to 
tell what brought him there. But to do that it would be necessary — " 

" To conceal yourself there," said Arlette, quietly. 

" But would the Count de la Calprenede allow us to do so ? I doubt it." 

" It would be better for him to know nothing about it. If I suggested 
the idea to him he would wish to act alone." 

" And would thereby expose himself to danger," murmured Doutrelaise. 

" I am equally unwilling for you to expose yourselves to danger," was 
Arlette's quick response. 

" Danger is of no consequence. Julien's salvation is the only thing to be 
considered." 

" Besides, there will be two of us," added Jacques, smiling. " Between 
us we will soon discover the scoundrel who ventures to intrude into your 
rooms. But it is extremely doubtful if he will pay you another visit for 
some time at least. lie must be aware of what has taken place, and he 
will keep quiet for a while. " 

" However, I am extremely anxious to do what Mademoiselle de la Cal- 
prenede suggests," remarked Albert. 

" And so am I," said Jacques ; " but mademoiselle has just told us that 
her father would not allow us to conceal ourselves in his apartments." 

" My father never goes into Julien's room at night, as Monsieur Doutre- 
laise knows. The room can be entered from the passage without passing 
through any of the adjoining apartments." 

"But to enter this passage we must have — " 

" The key of the apartments, " said Arlette. " Here it is. " And she drew 
it from her muff and handed it to Doutrelaise. " I need say no more," she 
added. "I can only pray for you and Monsieur de Courtaumer. If I 
hadn't known he was here, I should not have dared to come." 

This was said with such an utter want of affectation that Jacques was 
deeply touched. He scarcely believed in Julien's innocence, and at first 
he had been rather shocked by Mademoiselle de la Calprenede's visit, but 
he was beginning to consider matters in a more sensible light. A brother's 
honour was so precious that a sister might surely be excused for compro- 
mising herself a little, especially when it was only in appearance. At the 
same time, he perceived that Arlette was exceedingly attractive. Until 
then, he had seen her only occasionally in a crowd, or at the promenade, 
and he had not realised that she differed to any perceptible extent from 
other young girls. Now, however, he suddenly discovered that Made- 
moiselle de la Calprenede was his ideal, the woman of whom he had always 
dreamed. Doutrelaise on his side knew that this child of nineteen summers 
possessed a heart of gold, and dauntless energy, and that she was ever 
ready for deeds of devotion and self-sacrifice. And though he had never 
told her that he loved her, he flattered himself that she had guessed his 
secret, and that she did not scorn his love. 

" Then I can depend upon you ? " she said to the two friends. 



104 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" Can you doubt it? '' exclaimed Doutrelaise. 

" No : and I leave Julien's fate in your hands. I have told you what 
occurs at night-time in this house, though the cause or motive of it I can- 
not divine. I have just given you the key of our apartments ; you will, I 
am sure, do all that is necessary to discover the man who has intruded 
several times already. I have nothing more to say, and I leave everything to 
you." 

" Still, it is necessary to agree upon some plan," exclaimed Jacques. 
" What if-" 

" I have no plan," interrupted Arlette, " but I am firmly convinced that 
my brother is not guilty. If you have the same faith, you will save him." 
And after giving them both a look into which she threw her whole soul, 
she fled — that is really the word, for she had reached the door before 
Doutrelaise could overtake her. " Come no further," she said to him. 
"My maid is waiting for me on the staircase." 

Albert, deeply moved, returned to his friend, who greeted him with 
these words : " You are certainly right in loving her. She is charmiDg, and 
possesses unusual strength of character ; that is evident. I did not know 
her." 

"And now that you do know her, are you going to comply with your 
aunt's wishes ? " asked Albert, quickly. 

" Good heavens ! how stupid lovers are 1 " cried Courtaumer, laughing. 
"Because I do justice to Mademoiselle de la Calprenede's charms, you 
fancy I must be in love with her ! But she is sacred in my eyes, as yon 
desire to marry her. Ah ! if you had concealed your plans, I wouldn't 
be responsible for myself. But you confided them to me, and it is unneces- 
sary to say more. It is the same thing to me as if Mademoiselle de la Cal- 
prenede was already Madame Doutrelaise. But let us speak of more prac- 
tical matters. We have decided to embark in an extremely dangerou» 
undertaking, and we must understand each other. How are we going to 
proceed ? My idea is this : I will hide in the apartment — " 

" No, no," responded Doutrelaise. " The undertaking will be dangerous, 
as you say. It is for me to face the peril." 

" You egotist ! Admit that you are jealous of your privileges of a lover, 
and that you wish to win all the glory in Mademoiselle Arlette's eyes ! 
Well, I will not interfere with you. I will leave all the honour to you, and 
will help you just the same. This is what I propose : You will enter the 
apartments alone. That is only right, especially as she intrusted the key 
to you," said Jacques, somewhat mischievously. 

" Besides, I know where to hide so as to take the wretch by 
surprise. " 

' That is true ; you are familiar with the arrangements of the house. 
I might overturn some article of furniture, arouse all the tenants, and 
frighten the scamp we are after. But there is nothing to prevent me from 
remaining within call to help you." 

" Not upon the staircase, however. The man would take alarm, and all 
the persons who come in would see you." 

" No, for the gas is extinguished after midnight." 

" They all have their candles downstairs. It was only by chance that I 
was without a light the other night." 

" To hear you one would suppose that all the occupants of the house are 
night-birds. Let us pass them in review : Monsieur Matapan is hardly 
to be considered, he will not ascend to the second floor, as he lives on the 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 105 

first one. Thou there are the Bourleroys : the husband, wife and daughter 
don't come in at unheard-of hours, I suppose." 

" Only when they go to a ball. But you forget the son who is always 
late. If he met you, fifty people would hear of it the next day." 

"Oh, I can easily prevent him from gossiping, but I think it will be 
better not to have to deal with him. Let us try to find some other 
spot." 

" There is but one practicable hiding-place. On a chair, near the window 
of this room, whence, as you can see, you will command a view of Julien 
de la Calprenede's chamber." 

" Yes, that's so, upon my word ! " exclaimed Courtaumer, going to the 
window to convince himself of the truth of his friend's assertion. " This 
is an admirable observatory. If the army were attacked, the relief corps 
would know of it." 

"And if I need you, I will display a signal." 

" A signal light, then, as it will be dark. Shall you provide yourself 
with a lantern ? " 

" I don't know yet ; but there will be nothing to prevent me from open- 
ing the window and calling you, or even breaking a window pane should 
the call be urgent." 

" Very well, as you insist that I shall hold myself in reserve — " 

" Yes, my friend, I insist upon it. You will be very comfortable here. 
You will have a fire, and some cigars — " 

" When shall we begin these midnight vigils in, the Chateau Matapan ? " 
asked Courtaumer. 

" This very night ; and if nothing happens we will try again to-morrow 
night, and so on till we have captured our man." 

" All right, it is decided. You accept me as an auxiliary, don't you ? " 

" Very gladly. I even rely upon you to say a good word for Julien to 
your brother." 

" I have already told you that would be useless. But, by the way, what 
have you done with the opal ? " 

" The opal ? " repeated Doutrelaise. 

" Yes, the one which you severed from the necklace, and which you 
unfortunately showed to Monsieur Matapan ? It seems to me we have 
rather overlooked that in our calculations." 

" I had not forgotten it. It is here ; I have put it carefully away." 

" In my opinion, it would have been better to have thrown it into the 
Seine." 

" I have had a strong desire to do so ever since I discovered the con- 
sequences of my adventure, but I thought I had no right to so dispose 
of it." 

" It is indeed probable that Baron Matapan will claim it. I am rather 
surprised that he allowed you to keep it after he had seen it in your 
hand*." 

" Oh ! I understand why he did not tell me it belonged to him. He 
instantly formed a plan which he resolved to carry into execution. 
Whether Julien was guilty or not he was determined to denounce him, 
and have him arrested the same day ; and he was afraid of me. He 
thought I should divine his project and thwart him by warning the father 
or the son. To prevent this, he tried to make me think that the necklace had 
been stolen from one of his tenants, and merely requested me to keep the 
jewel I had secured." 



108 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" This Matapan is a clever rascal, there is no doubt of that. Have you 
seen him since yesterday morning ? " 

" No, and I'm not at all anxious to meet him again." 

" You are wrong in that, perhaps. When a man has an enemy, it is as 
well to know what he is doing. By talking with Matapan, you might, 
perhaps, succeed in discovering his game. You think he has ventured to 
aspire to the hand of Mademoiselle de la Calprenede. I don't believe it. 
If I could only manage to have a talk with him, I would soon discover the 
truth. To throw him off his guard, I would begin by asking for some in- 
formation about that pirate I met in the Champs-Elysees. I should like 
to know if the baron admits that he is one of that scoundrel's friends. And 
if such be the case, it would be advisable to apprise my brother at once of 
it, so as to enlighten him concerning this mysterious millionaire's acquaint- 
ances. But come, what do you think of these nocturnal visits to the Cal- 
prenedes' rooms ? Julien says he has often found furniture overturned in 
the morning. Mademoiselle Arlette declares she has heard people moving 
about. All this is so strange, I can't understand it. Apart from Matapan, 
have the Calprenedes any enemies in the house ? " 

" Have they any ? Why, I am their only friend. Have you forgotten 
what I told you on the Boulevard Haussmann, five minutes before I 
entered the house to meet with that infernal adventure which has been the 
cause of so many misfortunes ? " 

"No; you told me, I recollect very well, that all the Bourleroys were 
jealous of the Count de la Calprenede ; and the scion of this charming family 
has certainly proved that he detests Julien." 

"And that disagreeable doorkeeper, Marchefroid, who is Matapan's 
tool, of course, do you think he likes the occupants of the second floor ? " 

" His daughter isn't very likely to adore them, as she lives upon 
Monsieur Bourleroy's bounty. Does this Goddess of Liberty reside with 
her father ? " 

"No, Marchefroid has given her permission to board in the Quartier 
Br6da to complete her musical studies." 

"And she has chosen that old fellow on the third floor for her 
professor ! So you think that Marchefroid is Monsieur Matapan's tool ? " 

"I'm not sure of it, but it would certainly be advisable to watch him, 
and, indeed, to watch all the inmates of the house. Strange things are 
certainly going on here, and by mounting guard a few nights, we shall 
perhaps succeed in solving the mystery — and in proving that Julien de la 
Calprenede is not a thief," added Albert quickly. 

"That is an entirely different matter," replied Jacques, shaking his 
head; "but whatever the result of our efforts may be, we shall have the 
consolation of knowing that we have done our beat. You will un- 
doubtedly be summoned to the Palais de Justice some time to-day, and I 
advise you not to go out, so that the messenger may find you at home. 
It is urgent that you should see my brother at the earliest possible moment, 
so as to try to mitigate the effect of your previous disclosures to Monsieur 
Matapan. I am going back to the Rue de Castiglione, where I shall wait for 
my aunt, who has been to see Adrien ere this, and who will be able to tell 
me the condition of affairs. Shall we meet at the club at six o'clock this 
evening ? " 

" No, no ! we should be sure to meet a lot of persons who had heard 
of Julien's arrest, and who would ask us all sorts of troublesome 
questions. " 



THK MATAPAN AFFAIR. 107 

" You are right. I will call for you between six and seven, and we will 
dino nt some restaurant ; after which we will return here, and spend the 
evening by your fireside. While we talk we can give an occasional glance 
at the Oalpi-enede windows, and when we have seen all the lights extin- 
guished — that is to say at about midnight — " 

" Perhaps not so early as that. Mademoiselle Arlette sometimes sits up 
very late. 

" You appear to keep a close watch on her movements," was Courtaumci's 
laughing reply. 

" No," replied Poutrelaise, " but her room is exactly opposite mine, and 
it sometimes happens — " 

" Very well, very well 1 I won't argue with you on the point. We will 
begin our duties at the hour agreed upon. It is decided that you shall hive 
the most important and dangerous post. I will take up my quarters here. 
1 only ask to introduce one change into our programme — a mere trifle : I 
shall mako occasional excursions to the staircase." 

" That will be very imprudent." 

" No, for 1 shall only venture as far as the third floor. I shall content 
myself with listening over the balusters, and I will leave the door of your 
apartment open, so that 1 can take refuge inside if I am obliged to beat a 
retreat. I'll wear your slippers, so no one will hear me walking about. If 
necessary, I will even provide myself with list shoes. But, by the way, it 
wouldn't be a bad idea for you to give your valet leave of absence." 

" No: but I am not at all afraid that he will discover our projects. 
Remember that it isn't at all likely we shall succeed this evening, and the 
attempt may have to be repeated several times. I can't send him out to 
sleep every night. Besides, he is a trusty fellow, who meddles with 
nothing, and who might render us valuable assistance in case we needed 
reinforcements." 

" Very well. Everything is decided, then. I am going to get my break- 
fast now — I am nearly famished." 

" Why, won't you breakfast with me?" 

"Thanks — I want a walk, and 1 think you won't be sorry to have an 
opportunity for a little solitary reflection. You are in love, my dear fellow, 
mere deeply in love than ever, and profound passion craves solitude. So I 
will take my departure," concluded Jacques, shaking hands with his friend, 
who allowed him to go off without very deep regret. 

Jacques flew down the stairs four steps at a time, and on reaching the 
vestibule he saw M. Marehefroid, the doorkeeper, conversing with a 
stranger, who proved to be none other than the man with the pierced ears 
— the Chinese pirates' former pilot. " You here 1 '' exclaimed Courtaumer, 
rather contemptuously. 

" I merely came to call on my friend, Baron Matapan," replied the sailor. 
" Have you just left him ? " 

" What do you take me for?" retorted Jacques. "I only visit my 
friends, and your baron is no friend of mine, I assure yon." 

And he proceeded on his way, without troubling himself about the frown 
that Ma: i hefroid bestowed upon him. But as he walked up the boulevard, 
he said to himself that ho had perhaps made a mistake, and that it would 
have been much better not to have avowed his hostility towards M. Matapan 
in the presence of the doorkeeper, and in the hearing of a person who could 
scarcely fail to repeat his uncourteous remark to the baron himself. How- 
ever, live minutes afterwards, Jacijucs had forgotten all about it. lie had 



103 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

made a mistake. Nothing is lost in this world, and he had good cause to 
be convinced of thia fact some time afterwards. 



IX. 

An abode seldom fails to give a keen observer some knowledge of the habits 
of its inmates, and it was only necessary to enter M. Matapan's rooms to 
understand the character of the person with whom one had to deal. In his 
so-called reception-rooms — where no one was ever received — this millionaire 
had crowded everything that money could buy : superb furniture, costly 
clocks, gleaming mirrors, soft carpets, silken hangings, marvels in imitation 
buhl and Dresden china, and spurious productions of the old masters. Not 
a single family portrait, not an article bearing the signet of an individual 
taste, but on the other hand plenty of gilt-edged books that had never been 
opened ; fireplaces in which no fires ever blazed ; and crystal chandeliers, 
filled with candles that had never been lighted. One could see at a glance 
that the owner did not enjoy this magnificence, and that he only made this 
sacrifice to display for form's sake and out of deference to the opinion of 
others, so that he might not be accused of avarice, but command the respect 
of his tenants. The fact is, he did not feel at ease in these luxurious saloons 
which he rarely entered. His time was spent in his rooms in the right 
wing of the house — the famous wing which he had built for his personal 
convenience, and the internal arrangement of which was identical on each 
floor — there being four rooms which opened into each other, although at the 
same time each of them could be entered by a side passage. Baron Matapan 
had arranged these four rooms to suit his fancy— transforming them into a 
kind of nest from which he seldom emerged. They could each of them be 
used for any purpose ; he could sleep in whichever one he chose, for they 
were all furnished in the same style — a style eminently Oriental, although 
meagre in character. There were plenty of divans, large and small, piles 
of cushions instead of chairs, and small, low tables, such as can be seen in 
Turkish harems. The only ornaments upon the walls were weapons of 
every kind, ancient and modern, French and foreign, all of them hung up 
haphazard without any attempt whatever at symmetrical arrangement. 
Here and there, however, stood cabinets of heavily carved oak, laden with 
antique gold and silver plate, which looked as if it had been obtained at the 
sacking of a town or a church. Not a single bed or writing-desk was to be 
seen ; but chandeliers hung from every ceiling — chandeliers which were 
often lighted at midday, for the windows were of stained glass, through 
which sunshine could barely force its way, and a fire, hot enough to roast a 
salamander, blazed even during the summer in every chimney place. 

Evidently enough the occupant of this abode must be a person of eccentric 
tastes, and any Parisian would have found it difficult to adapt himself to 
the existence led there. As a natural consequence, M. Matapan had no 
intimate friends, and but few persons had ever crossed the threshold of his 
private apartments. Even the doorkeeper, Marchefroid, was not admitted 
there when he came four times a year to bring the quarters' rents, and 
yet Marchefroid was a favourite with the baron, who did not disdain to 
chat with him occasionally. 

Matapan's sanctuary was guarded by a servant, very peculiar in appear- 
ance and exceedingly swarthy in complexion. He evidently belonged to a 
copper-skinned race, although he had the features and hair of a European. 



THE MATArAN AFFAIR. 101) 

No doubt he was a half-breod, brought at an early age from Java or some 
other Dutch colony in the far East, and thoroughly civilised by a prolonged 
sojourn in Paris. He wore no livery, but dressed in Frencli style, and was 
greatly admired by all the servant girls in the neighbourhood. The name 
of this acclimatised slave was Ali, and he possessed a host of valuable ac- 
complishments, amongst them that of cooking to suit the taste of his 
master, who never ate away from home. Ali was cook, valet, steward, and 
secretary at once, in short, he did everything that was necessary, as the 
baron kept no carriage, but was content to hire a vehicle whenever he 
needed one. We should also add that although M. Matapan never enter- 
tained any body at home, the indefatigable Ali was on duty every evening, 
as his master never dined out. 

Strange as it may appear, the eccentric habits of this millionaire had not 
excited much comment. No reporter had ever called upon him for the 
purpose of describing his habits for a society journal, and it is probable 
that any interviewer of the kind would have been very ungraciously re- 
ceived. 

M. Matapan was to all appearance an exceedingly peaceable citizen. He 
belonged to a club, had his tradesmen, and his architect. He dressed like 
everybody else, took a walk almost every day, and no one was more 
affable than himself. Every one knew that he was a bachelor, and very 
fond of solitude, which explained why he did not give entertainments ; and 
the idea of accusing him of surrounding himself with secrecy had never oc- 
curred to any body. His tenants were probably the only persons who con- 
sidered him remarkably retiring in disposition. The Bourleroys sometimes 
complained a little on that account, for they would have liked M. Matapan 
to open those drawing-rooms of his, in which he could have given such de- 
lightful balls. They accused him of not living in a style suited to his 
means, and suspected him of being miserly ; but they esteemed him highly, 
and Mademoiselle Herminie would have been very willing to marry him. 

As the Commissary of Police had certified to the investigating magistrate, 
the baron had never had any dealings with the department of justice until 
the morning when he was summoned to testify before Adrien de Cour- 
taumer, and on the evening of that memorable day he dined alone, as usual. 
But after dinner he received a visitor, whom he was evidently expecting, 
and whom he had already met during the morning — the same visitor, in 
fact, that Jacques de Courtaumer had seen and recognised in the hall, after 
parting with his friend Doutrelaise. 

Ali had been warned, and by eight o'clock everything was in readiness 
for the ex-pilot's reception. The second room in the right wing — the one 
which corresponded with Julien de la Calprenede's study overhead — was 
brilliantly lighted up, and as hot as a furnace. There it was that the 
baron generally established himself after his evening repast (which never 
occupied more than twenty minutes), and there he remained until he retired 
for the night to a divan in the room beyond, which invariably occurred at 
ten o'clock precisely. 

It was now nine p.m. Matapan, sitting with his legs crossed under him 
in the Turkish fashion, had just raised the amber mouthpiece of a long 
cherry pipe to his lips. Opposite him, in the same posture, sat the man 
with the pierced ears, drawing long puffs of smoke through a nargheel, the 
flexible tube of which lay coiled in a vessel full of rose-water. Between 
them, on a low, sandal-wood table inlaid with pearl, stood several Vene- 
tian glasses, and decanters filled with different liquors, with a silver 



110 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

chafing-dish, under which a piece of fragrant aloes-wood was burning. It 
was an Oriental scene, occidentalized by the presence of rum and gin. Ali 
was not there. His master had just dismissed him, and the half-breed had 
gladly availed himself of the permission to retire to his couch. 

"So you have renounced a seafaring life, my friend?" inquired the 
baron of the man with the pierced ears. 

" Yes, I have risked my life often enough, and I now feel inclined to 
enjoy myself a little." 

"And you think you will do that in Paris? Why, I have been here a 
dozen years, and have not yet been able to feel at home." 

"That's your own fault, Matapan — you ought to marry. When a man 
becomes a peaceable citizen he ought to act like his fellows. It was all 
very well for you to remain a bachelor when you were scouring the seas 
with me, but now that you have taken root here, and become a landlord, 
you ought not to remain single. Such a thing was never heard of." 

" But I am growing old, Giromon. You forget I'm fifty-three," grumbled 
the baron, swallowing a glass of gin. 

" Bah ! you are as solid as an iron-clad. I'm in my fifty-sixth year, and 
if I can find a wife to suit me I shall marry without any haggling." 

" Yes, but there's the rub. A man can't find one ; or if he can, he is no 
better off. The young lady wouldn't have you — or if she would her parents 
wouldn't. 

" Are they, then, so hard to please? To hear you talk one would think 
you had tried it. " 

"No later than yesterday, my friend. I asked for the hand of a girl who 
hasn't a penny, and I was turned out of doors." 

"What, you ? I thought you were worth millions." 

" Eight at least. And the father hasn't money enough to pay for his 
daughter's trousseau." 

"Is he mad?" 

"No, he's a count. He fancies that he's the offspring of Jupiter, and 
that I am no more a baron than you are. " 

" Oh, that is true ; you are a baron. You told me this morning you had 
purchased your title, so in that case it belongs to you, and I don't see why 
any one should despise it. A baron is as good as a count, any day." 

" You don't understand these matters, my friend." 

" But — I am told that one can do anything with money in Paris." 

" All the evil one wishes, undoubtedly. But when it comes to marrying, 
that is quite another thing. However, I have had my revenge. I have 
struck these people in their most sensitive spot. The son has been arrested 
on my complaint, and he will be convicted of theft. They will all be irre- 
trievably disgraced." 

" Good ! that'll teach them to refuse a man like yourself— a capital 
sailor, wealthy, and with a title besides. But how did you manage to play 
them such a trick J " 

" A capital opportunity offered itself. I hadn't thought of such a thing, 
and was trying my best to devise some way of rounding on them, when I 
discovered yesterday that a valuable opal necklace of mine was missing. It 
was composed of opals, surrounded with diamonds. You perhaps remem- 
ber it." 

" Was it the one you had for your share of the spoil at the end of our 
first cruise in the ' Gavial ? ' " 

"The same." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. Ill 

" And yot have kept it for twenty-seven years ? For that was in '53, if 
I remember rightly." 

"Yes. But are you surprised I didn't sell it? I have always had a 
fondness for Handsome jewels, and these are superb. Besides, I don't 
regret having rept them now, for I had no difficulty in recognizing them 
in the office of the investigating magistrate. For they have been found 
again, and the thief proves to be the brother of the young lady I just 
spoke of." 

" How did he obtain possession of them ? Does he visit you ? " 

" No, but he had a key to my apartment. These people live in this house 
and formerly occupied these rooms. It is only about two months ago that 
they moved to the second floor, which I had previously occupied." 

" I understand. A key was lost in the excitement of moving, and they 
found it. But they certainly hadn't the key of your safe, and I don't 
suppose you leave your jewels lying about." 

" I had takei this necklace out of my safe to examine it, and I had left 
it in a drawer that wasn't locked. The thief entered during the night — " 

" And you didn't wake up ? " 

"No, I am i very sound sleeper. Ali sleeps in another part of the house, 
and the thief only had to look about a little to lay his hand on the jewels. " 

"It is fortunate that he didn't lay his hand on something even more 
valuable. You must have a nice little sum hoarded up here ; but no, you 
deposit your money at the Bank of France, of course." 

' ' Not 1 1 The Bank of France is a fine institution, but it will burst 
some day or other. I have no confidence in such places : I only trust 
my.ulf." 

" And you are quite right. I deposited my money there on my arrival, 
and hare repented doing so already. If I owned a house, as you do, I 
should secrete all my money in it, but mine wouldn't occupy as much space 
as your millions." 

" ^Vhen I had this house built, I contrived several hiding-places, I do not 
mind telling you so, for I know you won't go about repeating it. I had one 
upst&irs, and I have one here, and the devil himself couldn't find it." 

" zla, ha ! what if your tenant on the floor above has been sounding the 
walls ? " 

" He would discover nothing whatever. In the first place, you may rest 
assured that I have only left a vacant place in his abode. And even that 
space I defy him to discover. The mason who constructed the hiding-place, 
under my directions, died a long time ago, and I haven't revealed my secret 
to any one. Even if you asked it of me, I wouldn't tell you, Giromon." 

"You would be perfectly right, and I sha'n't be foolish enough to ask 
you." 

"Oh, it isn't because I distrust you, but merely out of principle. No 
one but myself shall know where my gold, jewels, and bonds are kept. I 
am as jealous of my wealth as I should be of my wife, if I had one, and 
perhaps even more so ; and if you knew what a pleasure I take in looking 
at it, and handling it every evening before I go to bed, you would under- 
stand why I never spend the night away from home. " 

1 ' I understand it so well that I wonder why you have ever thought of 
marrying." 

" Pooh ! it was a mere whim. I wished to have a son to inherit my 
fortune, but the caprice is past." 

" But haven't you any relatives in Mauritius ? " 



112 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" I have never known any, thank Heaven ! I was found at the foot of 
a cocoa-tree." 

" You are lucky. I have relatives somewhere in Brittany, but they have 
never troubled themselves about me, and I don't trouble myself about them. 
But tell me, old fellow, when you shuffle off this mortal coil will your 
property go to the government ? " 

" This house, yes, if I don't make a will ; but the rest, no one shall have 
it — that is, unless you purchase this house by auction after my death, and 
have it demolished in order to obtain possession of its contents. Now that 
I have told you this you will probably decide on the speculation. It 
wouldn't be a bad one." 

"I shall never be rich enough to attempt it. Besides, I shall die first." 

" Marry, since you are so inclined. You can bequeath the secret to your 
children." 

"Nothing would please me better," was Giromon's hughing reply. 
"Introduce me to a girl who has a handsome dowry, and who isn't too 
ugly. Not a countess, though. She wouldn't have me." 

"Upon my word! perhaps I know one that would suij you. What 
would you say to a young lady whose father has amassed a fortune in the 
drug business, and is not too exacting in regard to credentials eh ? " 

" Oh, I should tell him to send to China for his information. As he 
would think that too far to go, he would content himself with conferring 
with my notary — not that I have any as yet, but I shall haveone before 
long." 

" I think Monsieur Bourleroy would be satisfied with that. If remains 
to be seen whether you will please his daughter Herminie, howev«r." 

" I can try," was Giromon's modest reply, as he puffed away vigorously 
at his nargheel, which was beginning to go out. 

" Are yo u sure that I am the only person acquainted with your past life ? '' 
inquired the baron, after a short pause. 

" Everyone else who ever knew me, thinks I have either drank myself 
to death or been hanged before this time. When we were scouring the 
ocean, and afterwards when I was in league with those charming China- 
men, I figured under assumed names, and now no one would suppose for a 
moment that Jean Giromon, the capitalist, was formerly— Ah, the deuce ! 
I had quite forgotten. There is one man in Paris who met me at Saigon five 
years ago." 

' ' That's unfortunate. Who is it, pray ? " 

"A gentleman who was then a lieutenant on the ship 'Juno,' Monsieur 
de Courtaumer." 

" Courtaumer ! " exclaimed Matapan. " What ! do you know a gentle- 
man of that name?" 

" I know him very well," replied Giromon, considerably surprised by his 
companion's evident consternation. " He did me a great service down 
there. But for him, I should certainly have had a noose around my neck. 
I had been captured — I have told you the circumstances — and Courtaumer 
was in command of the gunboat that took us, but instead of having me 
hanged, he defended me before the maritime commission by which I was 
tried." 

" Which doesn't prove that he believed you innocent, however. And 
this gentleman knows you are in Paris, you say ? " 

" He saw me yesterday while we were breakfasting at the same restau- 
rant, and I afterwards took a seat beside him in the Champs-Elysges. I 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 1 1 3 

even spoke to Trim and reminded him of the sorry predicament from which 
he extricated me. " 

" You certainly must have been drunk. What need was there of expos- 
ing yourself in such a manner ? " 

"I confess I was wrong ; and I instantly discovered that I had made a 
mistake, for he was anything but gracious. He even told me that he con- 
sidered me a very suspicious character." 

" What the deuce were you thinking of? Do you know who this man 
is ? He is a relative of the magistrate who examined me to-day, and who 
openly defended the thief. He tried to induce me to withdraw my charge. 
I certainly hope you didn't tell this lieutenant that you were acquainted 
with me." 

"I did ; I hadn't the slightest idea it would displease you, however." 

" Well, this is a little too much ! You meet an officer who found you in 
the company of pirates, and you mention me as one of your friends. With 
what object, pray ? " 

" Why, he treated me so contemptuously that I was anxious to show 
him I had influential acquaintances in Paris." 

" I didn't know you were such a boaster. It would have been much 
better if you had held your tongue. Since I retired from business, I have 
always been exceedingly cautious whenever anyone questioned me about 
my past life. A single imprudent word may cost one dear ; and just now, 
particularly, I am obliged to be on my guard. When a man has any 
dealings with the department of justice, even as a witness, he must expect 
to be scrutinised closely. However, what did Monsieur de Courtaumer say 
when you spoke of me ? " 

" Nothing at all, for the very good reason that just as I mentioned your 
name, one of his friends came up and took him away. But I fancy he would 
always have known that I'm acquainted with you, even if I hadn't men- 
tioned your name, for he saw me talking to your doorkeeper this 
morning. " 

"This morning?" 

" Yes. I am still in the habit of rising with the sun, and I didn't know 
you were never to be seen until noon, so I called here at about ten o'clock to 
ask you to breakfast with me. The doorkeeper told me, however, that 
you couldn't be seen then. By the way, he seems to be a very obliging 
and devoted servant to you." 

" Yes ; I rescued him from poverty, and I would trust no one else to 
guard my house, or myself ; but let us return to this man Courtaumer." 

" Well, while I was talking with Marchefroid — what strange names 
these Parisians have— the naval officer passed by." 

' ' Did he recognise you ? " 

" Oh, instantly, and as he eyed me contemptuously, I said to him, ' Well, 
you see I wasn't boasting yesterday, when I told you I was the friend of 
Baron Matapan."' 

" Idiot ! that certainly caps the climax." 

" My dear fellow, I conceal nothing. I wish you to know just what you 
have to expect. I even asked him if he had come from your rooms 
which was very stupid, as Monsieur Marchefroid had told me you were at 
borne to no one." 

" And what did Courtaumer reply?" 

"He answered that he only visited his friends, and that you were not 
one of the number. And in such a tone 1 If you could only have heard 



114 THE MATAPAN APFAIE. 

him ! I was going to retort, but he went straight by without stopping 
again." 

Matapan, instead of replying, poured out a glass of rum and drained it 
at a single draught. It was his source of inspiration in trying moments. 
This narrative had plainly given him food for reflection, and he was asking 
advice of his faithful friend, old Tom. 

Giromon also thought it his duty to indulge in a glass of the same bever- 
age to console himself for the blunder he had committed. 

" I would have cheerfully given two thousand piastres to insure your 
silence," remarked the baron, after a time, "and if I were a hard-hearted 
man, I should consign you to eternal perdition for the injury you have done 
me ; but I shall never forget the dangers we braved together, and if you will 
promise to never again — " 

" May I be hanged to the yard-arm if I ever say another word about you. 
I'll be as mute as a fish, hereafter. So you are acquainted with this ex- 
lieutenant also ? " 

" Not exactly. I'm not even on speaking terms with him, although I 
meet him very often. But he sides with the Calprenedes, I'm sure 
of it." 

" The Calprenedes ! I never heard of them." 

"The thief's name is Julien de la Calprenede. His father is a count. 
Courtaumer also is a count, or something of the kind." 

" And the aristocrats side together. I understand now." 

"Moreover, he is the friend of a young fellow called Doutrelaise, who 
occupies my fourth floor, and who will have to give evidence in this neck- 
lace affair, for it was he who unconsciously put me on the track. He met 
the thief upon the staircase ; he even wrenched one of my opals out of his 
hand. He has it still, and will be obliged to return it to me. " 

" Then he can't be on the side of these Calprenedes." 

" I don't know, but I suspect he will be inclined to defend thorn, for 
reasons which it is not necessary for me to explain. It is more than likely 
that Courtaumer had just left Doutrelaise's rooms when you saw him pass 
through the hall— that is, if he was not coming from Calprenede's apart- 
ments, where he may have gone to hold a conference. This would be even 
more unfortunate, for the magistrate belongs to the same family, and 
would probably be guided by his brother's advice. Indeed, I would 
willingly wager almost anything that this ex-lieutenant has already spoken 
to the magistrate, who urged me to let the prosecution drop. Nor should 
I be at all surprised if it was he who gave him my necklace. Yes, that's 
it. The father finds it in the room of his scapegrace son, sends for the 
lieutenant, and entreats him to give the stolen article to his relative, the 
magistrate. Giromon, I forgive you. You have done me a service without 
suspecting it. Thanks to you, I now see through these people's scheme, 
and will govern myself accordingly. " 

"Thats fortunate, indeed!" exclaimed Giromon. "And you are no 
longer angry with me ? " 

" Not if you will promise to be discreet in future." 

" Oh, you have given me a good lesson, and I shall profit by it. I have 
no desire to quarrel with you, particularly as I have a business project to 
propose to you." 

"A business project? We'll discuss it. But in the first place, let one 
thing be plainly understood. You can see me every day, if you like ; but 
only in the evening, fr>m eight to ten. If you come earlier, you'll disturb 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 115 

me ; and if you come later you will disturb me still more, for I don't wish 
my hours for retiring to be interfered with." 

"Agreed. I'll drop in after dinner, and you can send me away when 
you have had enough of me." 

" What kind of a life are you leading here? " 

" One that I already feel tired of. I stroll about, and eat and drink — 
all of which costs me a good deal of momey and affords me very little 
amusement. The cookery is insipid ; the cognac resembles sweetened 
water ; the women have papier-mdcM faces ; the theatres are little 
cramped boxes, in which a man feels as if he were suffocating." 

" And yet you talk of marrying a Parisienne." 

" For her money ; but she must have a good deal of it, for, if I succeed 
in the enterprise I'm contemplating, I shall be rich enough to dispense with 
other people's coin. I shall return to Italy — that country suits me — and 
live as you do, tete-d,-tete with my ducats." 

" An enterprise, you say ? Do you contemplate a return to your former 
profession ? You would make a great mistake, my dear fellow. To incur 
the risk of hanging is all very well when a man has his fortune to make, 
but when it is made — " 

" Honesty is the best policy. That's my opinion ; and the undertaking 
I am about to propose is strictly honest. It is merely to obtain possession 
of a treasure which will be lost to everyone if I don't recover it." 

" Treasures ! " repeated the baron, scornfully. " I don't believe in them, 
at least except in such as I've seen and touched, like mine, for instance. 
After the Revolution it was a good time to search for hidden treasure. 
The nobles who emigrated had a mania for secreting their money in walls 
or cellars, and I have known men who made handsome fortunes by demo- 
lishing old mansions ; but those days are over," 

" Not at all," growled Giromon. "Didn't you tell me a moment ago 
that the person who bought this house after your death — " 

" You had better not take what I said literally, my dear fellow. I will 
take proper precautions that my treasure doesn't fall into the hands of the 
first-comer. But let us speak of yours. Are you really in earnest? " 

" Quite so. It is in your power to double your fortune by helping me to 
become the possessor of several millions ? " 

" Such an assertion is worthy of attention, certainly. Have you dis- 
covered some new guano islands ? That commodity is greatly reduced in 
price ; still, we might make a good thing out of it." 

"No, it isn't that." 

" A gold mine, perhaps, or a diamond field ? " 

"Neither. But speaking of gold mines, do you know where the most 
gold is located ? " 

" In Calif ornia, Australia, or Peru, probably. Do you mean to subject 
me to an examination in geography ? " 

" I mean to give you some useful information. The best gold mine, my 
friend, is the bottom of the sea." 

" The galleons of Vigo ! Thanks, I was once foolish enough to believe in 
them, and lost a hundred thousand francs in consequence." 

"You will lose nothing in the undertaking I propose. If we don't 
succeed, we shall only lose our time and labour." 

" I don't understand you. Speak plainly, and I'll answer you." 

" Then, listen attentively. Have I ever told you what I did after part- 
ing with my friends, the Chinese 1 " 



116 The matapan affair. 

" No ; I only know that you deposited your money in a Calcutta bank, 
and retired from business." 

" That's true. I had narrowly escaped hanging, and that alarmed me, 
Besides, I was rich enough. I wanted to rest and return to Europe. I 
took the longest route, however, going to Japan and thence to America, 
where I remained three years. I had some idea of establishing a large 
commission house in Colorado, for the transmission of precious metals to 
England, but eventually I gave up the project. I wasn't born for 
commerce. At the end of the third year, in January, 1879, I decided to 
return to Paris and see how I should like the place." 

" In January, '79 ! Why, it is now December, 1880, and you have only 
just arrived." 

" Which is due to the fact that I met with numerous adventures on the 
way. In the first place, instead of taking passage on one of the steamers 
plying between New York and Havre, I embarked from Vera Cruz, being 
anxious to catch a glimpse of Mexico, and I chose a sailing vessel — I don't 
like steamers. " 

"That's only natural, being accustomed to them. Besides, you made 
your fortune on fast sailing vessels — the ' Gavial,' for instance." 

"For this reason, or some other, I embarked on a fine ship bound for 
Liverpool. It was chartered by a Californian, whose acquaintance I had 
made in Mexico, and who was very glad to have me accompany him. This 
fellow had some twelve million dollars in gold ; that is to say, bullion, 
which he said had been extracted from a mine in Sonora. However this 
may be, these twelve millions were in iron chests on board the ship which 
he had chartered, and which was to take us to Liverpool, for he hoped to 
find a better market for his gold in London." 

" I think I begin to understand. You were shipwrecked, your Cali- 
fornian was drowned, and his money boxes went to the bottom of the 
sea." 

"That isn't quite it; but listen to me. We had almost reached our 
destination in safety when we met with a tempest at about one hundred miles 
from land in the Bay of Biscay ; however, we should certainly have 
weathered it if our rudder had not been carried away on the evening of the 
second day. There being no possible way of guiding the ship then, we 
were left to the mercy of God." 

" And God was merciful enough to drive your ship on the coast," re- 
marked the baron, ironically. 

"No, not upon the coast, but upon something worse. At midnight, 
when the sky was as black as ink, we struck a rock, and the ship went to 
pieces almost instantly. My Californian was asleep in his berth. He 
never woke up. The captain was swept off the deck by an immense wave 
just before the vessel went to pieces." 

" And you escaped ? " 

" Yes, a wave luckily threw me upon the rock which had caused the 
destruction of our vessel, and I managed to cling to a crag. If I believed 
in miracles, I should say that this was one, for I was the sole survivor — 
the only person saved out of twenty-two men on board." 

" And a passing vessel rescued you the next morning, I suppose." 

" No ; I remained there for twenty hours, and finally escaped without 
the assistance of any one." 

"How? By swimming to the shore ? " 

" Yes ; it wasn't very far off, and I was able to rest several times during 



TUK MATArAN AFFAIR. 117 

my journey. The approach to the coast is dotted with small islands and 
rocks." 

" 1 think I know the part. On reaching the shore you were hospitably 
received bv the piople of the district, 1 suppose." 

" The district is almost a wilderness ; besides, I must admit that I didn't 
try to find any of the inhabitants." 

" But you must have required nursing and attention." 

" Bah ! I'm used to hardships. I was bruised and sore, and well nigh 
famished, but no bones were broken, and I had a thousand dollars in 
American coin in a belt round my waist. Besides, a letter of credit was 
awaiting me in London. Under such circumstances, a man can dispense 
with help. And, besides, I had my reasons for wishing to keep the whole 
matter secret." 

"What ! did you even then think of recovering the Calif ornian's 
millions ? " 

' ' 1 had a vague idea of some such attempt. I said to myself : ' No one 
knows of the shipwreck, or the place where it occurred except myself. 
Something will finally be discovered, no doubt. Fragments of the vessel will 
drift to the shore, and the waves will strew the beach with the bodies of 
the drowned men. Fishermen will begin a search, and the companies in 
which the vessel was insured will try to recover the lost treasure ; but it is 
more than probable that all these attempts will prove futile, if I don't 
reveal the exact spot where the shipwreck occurred. If the companies fail 
to find the place, the millions will remain where they are. In any case, I 
shall lose nothing by holding my tongue.' It was one of the occasions 
when one might truly say that 'Silence is golden.' Well, after drying 
myself in the hut of some coast-guards, who believed I had been overtaken 
by the rising tide, I walked to the nearest railway station." 

" Without making any announcement to the marine authorities 1 " 

'■ Without saying a word on the subject to any one." 

" Do you know that was wonderfully shrewd on your part, Giromon ? " 
exclaimed Matapan. 

" Pooh ! it was a very easy matter, and you would have done the same. 
I was merely taking the necessary precautions in case the shipwreck should 
never be discovered, which seemed by no means likely. I must admit that 
1 didn't count much upon it." 

" And what did happen ? " 

" I was lucky all through. The ship was insured in London, and con- 
signed to a Liverpool merchant. I have just spent two years in England, 
and I assure 3*ou I lost no opportunity of making inquiries in a quiet way. 
The insurance companies and the consignee have done their best to solve 
the mystery that enshrouds the fate of the lost vessel, but have never 
obtained the slightest information about her. They have now quite given 
her up. There has been a law suit between my Californian's heirs and the 
insurance companies. It has not yet been finally decided, but all on board 
the ship have been declared dead." 

" Then, legally considered, you are a dead man." 

" I neglected to satisfy myself of that fact, for I am only moderately 
interested in it, as I was registered under an assumed name ; but I have 
satisfied myself on this point, that no one except myself knows where those 
twelve millions are." 

" But are there no fishermen on the coast? " 

" As many and even more than elsewhere." 



118 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

"And are they so stupid then — have they so little curiosity that they 
can see the shore strewn with dead bodies and the fragments of a wr icked 
vessel without making any attempt to discover whence they came ? This 
is extremely improbable, my friend. The inhabitants of the region must 
know as much about the affair as you do." 

" I can convince you that you are mistaken. In the first place, ship- 
wrecks are of frequent occurrence along that coast. There had been at 
least three or four during that same month of January, and two of the 
vessels were American ones. The bodies that were washed ashore were not 
sent to America to be identified ; and no one knows that a vessel, with its 
cargo of gold, lies there under thirty fathoms of water. I have made sure 
of it." 

"But how?" 

" My dear fellow, I went there three successive summers under the pre 
text of fishing and sea-bathing, and took up my abode in a cottage but a 
few miles from the rock where the vessel sunk. I was there again three 
months ago, and spent six weeks on the spot. I have made the acquaint- 
ance of everybody in the neighbourhood, and am considered an eccentric 
man, who only cares for fishing and boating. I hired a boat and a vehicle 
and went about everywhere, talking freely with all the country people, and 
I assure you that if any one of them had known anything about the lost 
treasure, I should have discovered it. They all like me, and don't distrust 
me in the least." 

"And didn't the men who saw you the day after the shipwreck recognise 
you ? '» 

" Who ? The two coast-guards and the four or five peasants of whom I 
asked my way ? You forget that they now take me for an English lord," 

" And you think you could find the spot ? " 

" I should say so. I have at least twenty times revisited and examined 
the rock upon which I spent that terrible night. It is an excellent place 
for fishing, so my frequent visits have excited no comment, and as I once 
took a sounding-line with me, I was able to ascertain the exact position of 
the wreck." 

" And you suggest recovering these millions from the depths of the sea ? 
In that case why have you waited so long ? " 

" In the first place, I wished to give the interested parties time to grow 
weary of their attempts to ascertain the ship's fate. For six months, 
indeed for nearly a year, the disappearance of this richly-laden ship 
created a great deal of comment both in England and America. The news- 
papers often alluded to it, and indulged in all sorts of conjectures. People 
even went so far as to credit a report that it had been captured by pirates, 
who had burned it after extracting the chests of gold, and murdering the 
crew." 

" It would have been a fine prize indeed, and if we had been fortunate 
enough to encounter one like it, while we were on board the ' Gavial ' — 

" We should not have allowed such an opportunity to escape us. Well, 
it only depends upon ourselves to meet with such another, and we can 
profit by it without the slightest danger, as there is no one to protect the 
spoil." 

" There is the sea ; the most formidable of adversaries." 

" That's nothing when a man knows how to contend with it. Two years 
have elapsed : there have been hundreds of shipwrecks since, and that one 
is forgotten. The coast i3 clear for us. " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 119 

" You say ' us.' Do you think of associating me in your enterprise ? " 

" Of course, since I have told you my secret." 

" You are very kind, I am sure," said M. Matapan, rather coldly. 
"But I don't see what object you can possibly have in associating mo in 
the enterprise." 

" Then you count the pleasure of doubling the fortune of an old friend 
as nothing ? " 

" Absolutely nothing. You see I'm frank." 

"Well, you are mistaken. It was our former friendship that decided 
me to apply to you — for I could apply to nobody else. " 

" Then you admit that you cannot succeed unhelped ? " 

" I admit it." 

" And that you need the help of some one with plenty of money ? " 

"Not by any means. I have all and more than is necessary to con- 
duct the undertaking as I desire to conduct it. Do you suppose I mean 
to go there witli any amount of paraphernalia, and intend to hire an 
army of workmen 1 In that case, we should have little hope of seeing 
our millions. There would be a great commotion as soon as our men 
recovered the first chest of gold. The news would spread all over the 
world, and we should be involved in lawsuits with all the underwriters 
in England. " 

" That's very likely, and for this reason your miraculous fishery is 
utterly impracticable. We should only give ourselves a great deal of 
trouble to enrich other people." 

"I'm not such a fool. We will be the only workers, and no one will 
know anything about it." 

" I don't say that you are a fool, but I'm certain that you are mad. 
Where have you ever seen any two men who could extract from the sea 
a number of chests covered with twenty fathoms of water? " 

" Well, in the first place, I have been engaged for two years in prepara- 
tions for the undertaking. I did not lose any time while I was on the other 
side of the channel. Instead of strolling about the streets of Loncon, I took 
up my abode at Whitstable, a small English town which is mainly in- 
habited by men who only engage in submarine works. They furnish 
recruits for the company of English divers, a large and exceedingly pros- 
perous corporation, by the way. They purchase wrecked vessels for 
nominal sums, and I assure you that they don't lose by the operation. 
For instance, if these men knew the whereabouts of this wreck which we 
are keeping for ourselves, they would go to the officers of the insurance 
companies and say to them : ' If you will sell us all your rights to this pro- 
perty, we will pay you one million or two millions cash, and, at our own 
risk and expense, we will work this gold mine, which is nothing to you, 
while it will perhaps yield us twelve millions.' " 

" I understand. But in what way will these men be of service to you?" 

" They won't be of service to me ; they have been. They taught me to 
dive." 

" Bah ! " exclaimed Matapan, " so you are a diver now ? I didn't know 
you possessed that accomplishment. Then you can fish for pearls like 
the poor devils we saw in Ceylon ? " 

" Nothing of the kind," replied Giromon. " Those people are savages, 
who only know how to hold their breath for two or three minutes, 
and quickly rise to the surface after gathering a quantity of pearl 
oysters. " 



120 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" It is true that they wouldn't be able to raise a chest of bullion to the 
surface," sneered the baron. 

"No," was the quiet reply ; " but the Whitstable divers use an appara- 
tus which enables them to remain for a long time under water, and to 
work there in comparative comfort." 

" I have seen it. The invention isn't new by any means." 

" No, but it is excellent when a man knows how to use it, and I know 
how. The apprenticeship one is obliged to serve is long, but I became an 
expert, and thanks to the repeated experiments I made, I am now capable 
of undertaking the most difficult submarine operations. When I have my 
helmet on my head, I am as comfortable at the bottom of the sea as if I 
were walking down the boulevard in my overcoat." 

" Provided they send you plenty of air through the tube ? " 

" Certainly. I haven't yet learned the art of breathing like a fish." 

" Then you require the help of several persons? " 

•' No. Usually there are three : the diver, and two men who work the 
air-pumps ; but in an emergency two will suffice in all." 

" What ! is a single man sufficient for the pump ? " 

" I am certain of it. I tried, and the attempt was successful. A little 

actice is all that is necessary, especially when one has been a sailor. 
And you were, and are still, a thorough sailor." 

" I'm a trifle rusty, perhaps, but for all that I shouldn't be much at a 
loss if I had a ship to command. And so you have chosen me to man the 
pump ? " 

" That is to say, I could think of no one else. It is the post of honour. 
Remember that the life of the diver depends upon the comrade who sends 
him air. If he paused for an instant — " 

" I understand : the other would die of asphyxia. Really, the twelve 
millions would be a temptation. There are some scoundrels who wouldn't 
care to share them with a friend." 

" Oh, I have no fears so far as that is concerned. The person who might 
treat the diver in such a manner would gain nothing by his rascality, for 
he couldn't work alone, and the gold would remain where it is." 

" Unless the scoundrel deferred the execution of his infamous scheme 
until the last descent. He might allow his colleague to bring up all but 
the contents of one chest. Even if he abandoned that, he would derive a 
very handsome profit from the enterprise. " 

" Your suggestion is anything but reassuring," rejoined Giromon. " But 
I know that you like to jest, and I'm not afraid of you. I shah merely use 
your objection to demonstrate the fact that I could only propose the 
project to a tried friend." 

" Admit for a moment that I am this friend, and that I learn to handle 
the air-pump successfully ; now do me the favour to explain how you 
intend to conduct the enterprise." 

" Why, we will both go to the little village of which I have spoken, 
I know an isolated house there which is very comfortable, and which we 
can hire whenever we like. We will take no one with us. We can engage 
some woman in the village to come and do the little cooking and house- 
work we require. This will surprise none of the inhabitants. I have 
always lived in that way when I have been there. You will pass for an 
eccentric man with tastes similar to mine — an enthusiastic amateur fisher 
man and boatman. I have everything that is needful : a sailing boat that 
two men can manage, lines and ropes of every description — " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 121 

" And a diver's costume ? " 

" We will send for that. It will come carefully packed in boxes, which 
can be carried unopened into our house, and which we will unpack our- 
selves. As soon as we are fully equipped we will begin work. We will 
spend most of our time in our boat, going out at all hours of the day, and 
often at night time, under pretence of fishing. The people of the neighbour 
hood are accustomed to my peculiarities, and won't trouble themselves 
about us. I will take you to the scene of our labours, and we will make 
some soundings to ascertain the exact position of the wreck. Then some 
pleasant night, when everyone is in bed, we will put our apparatus into our 
boat. We will then go straight to the spot and anchor there." 

"And do you fancy that after you have reached the bottom of the sea, 
you will only have to stoop and pick up the gold ? " 

" By no means. Mine will be no easy task. I must first find the chests, 
and then break them open." 

" And you think you will be able to do this 1 " 

" Certainly. I tried similar experiments at Whitstable, and had no 
trouble whatever. I can work with forty or fifty fathoms of water above 
my head, with as much ease as if I were on dry land. I shall fill a bag 
with gold, attach it to my belt, then ring, and you will draw me up to tne 
surface. There is no difficulty about that. I can descend four or five 
times during the tame night, and we can return home before daylight with 
all the gold our boat can carry. Now, do you still think my scheme im- 
practicable ? " 

'■ Hum ! whether it is practicable or not, I am as yet unable to say ; but 
one might be tempted to try to carry it into execution. But how long do 
you think it will take to exhaust the gold mine?" 

" Two or three months will probably be required, possibly three or four. 
If we are in too much of a hurry we sha'n't succeed." 

" Let us say four or five months, then. That's too long for me. I have 
a treasure to guard here, and if I absented myself for any length of time, I 
should be very uneasy." 

" Then you don't think twelve millions sufficient compensation for a short 
absence ? " 

" 1 didn't say that ; but I want time for reflection. 1 suppose you have 
no intention of beginning work at once ? " 

" My dear friend, I am still very much in doubt about the most suitable 
season. In summer we should have calm and pleasant weather, and our 
task would be less difficult ; but on the other hand, at that time of the 
year the coast is infested with sea-bathers and tourists, who might interfere 
with our operations." 

" And recognise me, who am very well known in Paris." 

" Exactly. While in the autumn or winter we should only meet the 
natives. But it might take us longer then, as there would often be 
storms to prevent us from going out in our boat. What do you say ? I 
will abide by your decision." 

Baron Matapan reflected some time before he made any response, but at 
last he said : "Giromon, I promise nothing, but even if I decided to en- 
gage in this enterprise I sha'n't begin operations at once." 

" Very well. But when will you begin ? " 

" After I have had my revenge on the Calprenedes," replied the baron. 
" I cannot leave Paris until the son has been brought before the Assizes. 
And now," he added, rising with a little difficulty, " do me the favour to 



122 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

take yourself off. It is past ten o'clock, which is my hour for retiring, 
and I am terribly sleepy." 



The day had seemed intolerably long to Doutrelaise. It had passed with- 
out his seeing anyone or hearing any news whatever. He had breakfasted 
alone at home, and had then dressed to go out, as he expected every moment 
to be summoned before the investigating magistrate, and he was anxious to 
give his testimony as soon as possible, so that he might atone for the im- 
prudent disclosures which had caused Julien's arrest. He now bitterly 
regretted and anathematised the rash words which M. Matapan had 
taken such an unfair advantage of, for he could not close his eyes to the 
fact that all this trouble had been caused by the narrative of his midnight 
adventure and the exhibition of the opal. And his chagrin was the greater 
from the fact that he could no longer doubt but what he was known to 
be the accuser of Arlette's brother. What must that lovely young girl 
think of the unfortunate blunder her lover had committed ? Her visit 
had slightly reassured him. He said to himself that if she had not for- 
given the injury he had unintentionally done her brother, she wouldn't 
have come to show him a way to atone for it. For was it not a treaty of 
alliance that she had concluded with him by begging him to help her in 
saving Julien ? And did not the means she had indicated prove that she 
had entire confidence in his discretion and devotion ? It is true that she 
had also solicited the assistance of Jacques ; but Jacques was an honourable 
man, utterly incapable of taking advantage of the opportunity to supplant 
his friend Doutrelaise. Besides, it did not seem at all probable that 
Jacques would play a prominent part in the salvation of young Calprenede. 
He himself admitted that he had no influence whatever over his brother ; 
while Doutrelaise, on the contrary, had only to speak to convince M. 
Adrien de Courtaumer that Baron Matapan had strangely distorted the 
facts, that his accusation was based entirely upon an incident which he, 
Doutrelaise, now regarded in an entirely different manner, and that not 
merely was there nothing to prove that the person who had ascended the 
stairs at a quarter past twelve o'clock was Julien de la Calprenede, but 
that there were circumstances which rendered such a supposition extremely 
improbable. The man who had the necklace in his hand was both stronger 
and taller than J ulien ; and this was not the first time M. de la Cal- 
prenede's apartments had been entered at night. 

However, to Albert's great surprise and disappointment, the anticipated 
summons did not come, although M. de Courtaumer's clerk had sent it with 
the summons to Baron Matapan. Unluckily, however, it was the doorkeeper, 
Marchefroid, who had received them both, and he had deemed it advisable 
to take them to his master. 

The baron, who feared the effect of Doutrelaise's evidence, thereupon 
ordered his satellite to keep Albert's summons, and not deliver it until the 
following morning, hoping that this manoeuvre would prevent the magis- 
trate from listening to testimony which might exonerate young Calprenede, 
and that Doutrelaise's failure to appear would insure him a reprimand and 
prejudice the magistrate against him. 

The first of these results was attained, and if he failed in the other it 
was no fault of his, for he could not foresee M. de Courtaumer's resignation. 
Albert did not receive the expected summons, but at six o'clock in the 



TEH MATAPAN AFFAIJt. 123 

evening he did receive a letter which he was not expecting, and which 
occasioned him a fresh disappointment. Jacques wrote that he could not 
dine with him, as his aunt insisted that he should spend the evening with 
her. He announced that his time would not be wasted by any means, as 
Madame de Vcrvins had a deal to tell him, and that he would be at lifterty 
to join his friend before midnight, when he should bring some new and 
interesting information respecting Julien's case. 

The first thought that occurred to Doutrelaise was that Jacques had 
deserted him, and if he had decided not to keep his promise, it could only 
be at the advice of his brother, transmitted through the marchioness, who 
had probably entreated her favourite nephew not to interest himself any 
further in a young fellow who was irrevocably lost. Doutrelaise forgot 
that Jacques was not a person to be easily persuaded, and, perhaps with- 
out being really conscious of the sentiments that influenced him, he was 
not altogether sorry to be deprived of his friend's assistance. The under- 
taking would be attended with greater difficulties, but the honour of 
success would belong entirely to himself. Arlette would be indebted to 
himself alone for the proof of Julien's innocence. 

Doutrelaise dined at home alone and then dismissed his valet, who gladly 
availed himself of the opportunity to retire for the night. The young 
fellow then established himself in his smoking-room, which was admirably 
situated for watching the apartments both of the count and the baron. 
There was no light visible in the abode of either of them, and so he came 
to the conclusion that all the occupants of both floors had gone out — in 
which he was much mistaken, as M. Matapan was at that very moment 
holding an animated conversation with his old friend Giromon. At about 
ten o'clock Doutrelaise saw a light appear in the central room on each floor 
— the count's bed-chamber and the apartment in which the baron intended 
to sleep that night, Giromon having just left him after a long conference in 
the adjoining room, the stained-glass windows of which intercepted the 
light inside. 

From these observations Doutrelaise came to the conclusion that M. de 
la Calprenede and Matapan had just returned home, and that the count 
was now talking with his daughter. All of a sudden, a ring at the door of 
his rooms made him start. The visitor could be none other than Jacques 
Je Courtaumer, and Doutrelaise went to admit his friend. "I am de- 
lighted to see that I didn't wake your valet," exclaimed Madame de Ver- 
vins' nephew. 

"I told him he need not trouble himself if any one did ring," said Albert. 
"I didn't wish him to see you ; but I confess I had given you up." 

" Why ? You received my letter, didn't you ? " 

" Yes, but I thought that your aunt—" 

" My aunt just went to bed, and I lost no time in getting here. Besides 
I am not late ; as our operations cannot begin before midnight, we still have 
an hour to spare." 

" An hour at least, for they are still up." 

" So much the better, for it will take me at least an hour to tell you all I 
have just heard." 

" Nothing good I am sure." 

" Not particularly ; but I do not despair. Have you anything to drink ? 
My throat is dry from talking — and any cigars ? I have smoked all day 
without going up to my rooms, and my case is empty." 

"You will find all you want here." 



124 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

' ' Perfect ! " exclaimed Oourtaumer, as they entered the smoking-rooij.. 
" This is certainly a comfortable place for a chat. Out of doors, there's a 
cold mist that chills one to the bone. Now, oblige me by explaining the 
meaning of those lights in the opposite wing. Whose is that brilliant 
one on the first floor ? " 

" Matapan's." 

"And that subdued light on the third floor?" 

" 'J hat window is in the count's bed-chamber." 

" Then his room is directly over the baron's. Look, the old rascal has 
just extinguished his light ! " 

Doutrelaise hastened to the window, and saw that M. Matapan's light 
had indeed disappeared. "Yes," he murmured, "he has retired for the 
night no doubt." 

" By the way," suddenly inquired Courtaumer, "why didn't you present 
yourself at the Palais de Justice?" 

"I didn't go because I was not summoned," replied Albert, considerably 
surprised. 

"Excuse me ; my brother summoned you at the same time as he sent for 
Matapan, who lost no time in making his appearance." 

" I assure you I received no summons, although I have been at home all 
day. I am exceedingly sorry that I failed to receive the message, for I 
might have mitigated the effect of Monsieur Matapan's assertions. Mon- 
sieur de Courtaumer has only heard the accuser, while if he had questioned 
me—" 

" Console yourself. He won't have charge of the case." 

" What ! has he declined it? That is a bad omen. He has probably be- 
come convinced that Julien is guilty, and doesn't wish to be mixed up in 
the affair." 

" That is about the situation ; but my brother has done more than decline 
the case ; he has sent in his resignation ; and there must have been good 
reasons for him to do so, for I know that he is much attached to his pro- 
fession." 

"Then all is lost. My only hope was in his kindly sense of justice. The 
colleague who takes his place will probably be guided by appearances, and 
appearances are certainly against Julien. But what can have happened to 
induce your brother to take such a momentous step ? " 

"Something really very extraordinary. You recollect that Mademoiselle 
de la Calprenede told us this morning that her father had discovered the 
necklace in a room adjoining Julien's. I confess that the confession over- 
whelmed me with consternation, and I entirely forgot to ask her what had 
become of the accursed jewels. However it seems that yesterday evening 
the count took the necklace to my aunt, showed it to her, and asked 
her advice. You will never be able to guess the scheme she devised for 
extricating him from his dilemma ? " 

" She perhaps volunteered to return the article to its owner." 

" Not exactly, but she took it to the Palais de Justice this morning, 
forced her way into Adrien's office, and after throwing the necklace on his 
desk, said substantially as follows : 'My dear nephew, here are the jewels 
claimed by Monsieur Matapan. The Count de la Calprenede has intrusted 
them to me, telling me in confidence that they were found in his son's room. 
Some one must have put them there to injure the young man. You are to 
return them to this fellow Matapan, and compel him to withdraw his com- 
plaint.'" 



TIIB MATAPAN T AFFAIR. 125 

" And did your brother comply with his aunt's request ? " 

"He absolutely refused to do so at first; and if you knew him, you would 
understand how much he must have suffered when he found himself obliged 
to choose between his duty and our aunt's favour. However he finally 
yielded to the persuasions of the only person who has any influence over 
him. When my aunt left him, ho admitted the baron, showed him the 
necklace, and tried to convince him that it was advisable for him to let the 
prosecution drop. This Matapan absolutely refused to do. He even in- 
dulged in some impertinent insinuations which wounded my brother sodeeply, 
that the conscientious fellow, as soon as the interview was over, carried the 
necklace to the clerk's office, and sent his formal resignation to the Keeper 
of the Seals. It was an act of heroism on his part, which my aunt doesn't 
fully appreciate. She has been trying to induce Adrien to retire from the 
service of the government for a long time past, and she thinks he has only 
done his duty in resigning ; but my amiable sister-in-law has had a terrible 
quarrel with him. She is exceedingly ambitious, and she said so much 
that poor Adrien was obliged to take refuge at my aunt's, where I dined 
and spent the evening with him." 

" Then you know what Monsieur de Courtaumer thinks of Julien's 
case." 

" He thinks it a very bad one. Indeed, he said that if Monsieur de la 
Calprenede was not convicted, the trial would be only a farce." 

" And does Madame de Vervins share this opinion ? " 

" On the contrary, she is firmly convinced that Julien is the victim of a 
conspiracy. There was an excited controversy between her and Adrien on 
this point ; and I must say that she presented some very strong arguments 
in Julien's defence. This among them : the principal evidence against the 
young man is, that he had in his possession yesterday a large sum of money 
which he pretends to have won at roulette. It being impossible for him to 
prove this fact, persons naturally suppose that this money was realised by 
the sale of the necklace. But this necklace was not sold, as it has been 
found in one of the count's apartments." 

"That's evident. What reply did your brother make to that argu- 
ment?" 

"None, but he persisted in his opinion. He is as obstinate as a mule. 
Still, what he thinks is of very little consequence, as he will have nothing 
more to do with the case." 

" Did you say anything to Madame de Vervins about our scheme ? " 

" I referred to it, but only vaguely. I assured her that I had not aban- 
doned young Calprenede's cause, and gave her to understand that I had 
discovered a means of being of service to him, but I took good care not to 
take her into our confidence. If I had done so, it would have been 
necessary for me to tell her of Mademoiselle Arlette's visit, and the key she 
had given you, and my aunt would have been horrified. Besides, you are 
not in favour with her at this moment. The count considers you to be the 
cause of his misfortunes, and he has converted his old friend to the same 
opinion." 

" But hasn't Madame de Vervins other reasons for disliking me ? " in- 
quired Doutrelaise, with some hesitation. 

"What? She scarcely knows you." 

"That is true ; but she has always intended you to marry Mademoiselle 
<ie la Calprenede." 

' : I'm not sure of that, though I am strongly inclined to think so. But the 



126 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

brother's conduct isn't calculated to encourage any decent fellow to marry 
the sister." 

" But if his innocence was established, Madame de Vervins might again 
be anxious for the match you have alluded to." 

" What are you going to worry about next ? My aunt can form all the 
plans she likes, but I am the person principally interested, and you know 
very well that I shall never try to supplant you. Besides, you will, perhaps, 
have an opportunity to reinstate yourself in the good graces of the people 
who are now hostile to you. If you succeed in capturing the real thief, I 
think all the Calprenedes will have cause to thank you, and there will be 
no better way for them to testify their gratitude than to admit you into 
their family. But time is passing, my friend, and it seems to me the 
decisive moment is fast approaching. How are the signal lights opposite?" 

" The light in the count's bedroom has been extinguished." 

" Good ! then he is asleep or going to sleep." 

"And now there is a light in his daughter's room," exclaimed Doutre- 
laise, who had not once taken his eyes off the right wing of the house. 
Courtaumer rose, and was hastening to the window to convince himself of 
the fact, when Doutrelaise prevented him from doing so by saying : " Take 
care. If you go too near the window you will be seen. " 

"Who'll see me? Matapan is asleep, and Monsieur de la Calprenede 
also ; and if Mademoiselle Arlette, who is still awake, should see me — or 
you, no great harm would be done. She must be thinking of us at this 
very moment, for she knows that the hour is approaching, and perhaps she 
would not be sorry to see that we are here. " 

"It isn't she, I fear. 

" Who, then ? The Bourleroys' rooms are all dark like Matapan's." 

" But you forget that people who want to see without being seen, take 
good care to extinguish their lights. There is nothing to prove that some 
one on the third floor is not watching us. The Bourleroys of both sexes are 
quite capable of such an act. " 

" If they are not watching us from the staircase, that's all I ask." 

" And now, my dear friend, I think it is time for you to repair to your 
hiding-place." 

" I, too, think so, and I am ready." 

" However, we ought to understand each other before we begin the cam- 
paign. Tell me how you mean to proceed, so that I may know what 
to do ? " said Jacques. 

" Gh, my plan is very simple. I am going to steal downstairs, cautiously 
open the door of Monsieur de la Calprenede's apartments, and creep softly 
along the passage leading to the study. It was there the necklace was 
found. It is considerably longer than it is wide, and has but one 
window — " 

" Yes, the second from the angle." 

"And three doors. One at the end, opposite the window, and opening 
into the passage — I shall enter by that ; another opening into Monsieur de 
la Calprenede's chamber ; and the third communicating with Julien's bed- 
room." 

" Where shall you station yourself ? " 

" In an arm-chair in a corner near the door leading into the passage. I 
know the position of all the articles of furniture as well as I know the 
position of those in this smoking-room. I have often called on Julien, and 
he has always received me there. I can see the room now as plainly as if I 



THE MATAPAN AFPAIIl. 127 

were in it. There are four chairs — two arm-chairs and two ordinary ones ; 
besides a low sofa. This last stands against the wall that separates the 
study from J ulien's bed-chamber. The arm-chairs stand one to the right, 
the other to the left of the door ; the small chairs are at either end of a table 
covered with books and papers, in the middle of the room. Against the 
other partition there is a cabinet — " 

" In which the necklace was found — at least so I was informed by my 
aunt, who received her information from Monsieur de la Calprenede 
himself." 

" That is a valuable bit of information, and corresponds with what I saw 
the night I met the man on the staircase." 

" What did you see?" 

"After reaching my room, I went to the window. I fancied the person 
I hadmet was Julien, and wished to make sure of the fact. I thought I should 
see a light in his room, but 1 was mistaken. However, it seemed to me I 
could see a form slowly passing the first window, and a moment afterwards 
this form reappeared near the window in the study, where it stooped — and 
the cabinet is in that very spot." 

" The man stooped to open it, that's evident. But this doesn't prove 
that the person wasn't Julien." 

' ' No, I even thought it was he, and that he was locking up some money 
he had won at the card-table, but I have changed my mind since." 

" And how did this shadow-play end ? " 

" I grew tired of watching and went to bed." 

" That's a pity. The performance might perhaps have become interest- 
ing. I think I am now sufficiently acquainted with the topography of the 
room in which you mean to operate, so suppose we return to our plan. 
You are going to seat yourself in one of the arm-chairs and wait. For how 
long shall we say ? " 

" Till three o'clock. That will be long enough for the first attempt." 

" Besides, if you remain away any longer, I cannot promise you that I 
sha'n't fall asleep. Another point : you will dispense with a light, I 
suppose ? " 

" Certainly. If I have a light the man won't come in, or if he does, he 
will see me and fly off at once. I might, perhaps, discover who he is, but 
I shouldn't discover the object of his coming, while by remaining in dark- 
ness and allowing him to act — " 

" That's all very well ; but to detect him in the act, you must be able to 
see distinctly. A dark lantern is what you need, but I don't suppose you 
possess one." 

" No, I don't." 

" Then we will say no more about it. You can use a box of matches 
and a common candle instead." 

"Yes, and now that we have said all that is necessary, I am going to 
my post. It is quite time. " 

" 1 will detain you no longer. But one last bit of advice. Don't forget 
that Mademoiselle de la Calprenede is not yet asleep. There is still alight 
in her window." 

" You may rest assured that she won't close her eyes to-night." 

"No more than we shall," said Courtaumer, gaily. "I am inclined to 
think that neither of us will persevere long in this undertaking, so let us 
hope that our first attempt will prove successful." 

" Yes, we will hope so," repeated Doutrelaise. " Hope is the only con- 



128 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

solation that is left me now ; but I have strong doubta of our success. I 
have the firmest belief in the truth of Julien's and Mademoiselle Arlette's 
statements concerning these nocturnal visits. What I saw the other night 
would convince me on this point, did I doubt their word ; but despite 
Mademoiselle Calprenede's presentiments, I scarcely believe that this man, 
whoever he may be, will venture to return into the count's apartments. He 
can have no earthly object in doing so now. If his design was, asl believe, 
to ruin Julien by abstracting Matapan's necklace and placing it in that 
cabinet, he has accomplished his purpose, and surely has no reason for 
another nocturnal prowl." 

" Bah ! we'll see ; we shall triumph ultimately, I am sure of it. Go, my 
dear fellow, and I will watch here." 

" But one word more before we separate. We have agreed upon a plan, 
but it is understood, is it not, that the details of its execution shall be left 
to the judgment of each of us ? " 

" Of course ; and I am inclined to think that nothing we have predicted 
will come to pass." 

" By the way, shall you take a revolver ? " added Jacques. 

"That was my intention at first; but I have since decided to go un- 
armed." 

" Remember that we shall perhaps have to contend with a scoundrel 
armed to the teeth 

" A pistol shot would arouse the entire household, and this man, who 
must live in the house, has every reason to desire to avoid capture in 
Monsieur de la Calprenede's apartments." 

" That's true ; but he might use a poniard." 

" I will run the risk of that," said Doutrelaise, resolutely. "I must 
incur some danger." 

" Oh, I understand. You want Mademoiselle Arlette to know that you 
have risked your life to save her brother. Give yourself no further 
anxiety ; I will see that she is informed." 

' ' Thank you ; but I should prefer her to discover the fact for her- 
self." 

With these words the conversation ended. Albert provided himself 
with all the necessary materials for striking alight at an instant's warning, 
and Jacques accompanied him as far as the landing. There they experi- 
enced no little satisfaction on finding that the gas had been extinguished. 
Absolute silence reigned in the ball, which was enshrouded in complete 
darkness. They shook hands before they separated, and Doutrelaise 
cautiously descended the stairs, while Courtaumer returned to the smoking- 
room. 

Albert held fast to the baluster as he went down — he had already drawn 
the key of M. de la Calprenede's apartment from his pocket— and he 
listened attentively, and paused some seconds upon each step. On reaching 
the seventh, he fancied he heard a door open below and he hastily 
retreated to the wall. He trusted, for an instant, that the mystery was 
going to be solved sooner than he had even dared to hope. But he soon 
perceived that the door which had opened was on the third' floor, and that 
some one had opened it, not to go in, but to come out. Somebody was 
stealthily leaving M. Bourleroy's apartments. "What if this midnight 
prowler should be one of the Bourleroys," thought Doutrelaise. 

He was promptly enlightened on this point. By the flickering slimmer of 
a candle that suddenly became visible in the darkness, Doutre'aise per- 



TIIE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 129 

ccived the back of an individual who was cautiously descending the stairs, 
muffled in a fur-lined overcoat. 

"Good heavens!" murmured Albert. "I believe it is Bourleroy — the 
old man. Where can he be going at this hour ? To the Count de la Cal- 
prenede's apartments ? That is impossible. Old Bourleroy is an idiot, but 
no thief. Still, I shall soon be satisfied on that point. He will soon reach 
the second floor. If he descends below it — which he is doing now — he 
intends to leave the house ; for he certainly can't be going to pay Matapan 
a visit. Ah, I can guess now where he is bound ! While his wife and 
daughter are asleep, he takes advantage of the opportunity to make his 
escape. He must be expected by the young lady we saw in that little 
brougham in the Champs-Elysees yesterday ; and it is the virtuous 
Marchefroid who will open the door for him. Well, this caps the climax ! 
But I will advance no further until after he has reached the street ; for 
what if a fancy to retrace his steps should suddenly seize him ?" 

A familiar sound put a sudden end to these reflections — the tingling of 
the street-door bell, and at the same instant the flickering light gleaming 
intermittently in the darkness below altogether disappeared. "Monsieur 
Bourleroy plainly doesn't care to be seen by the person who just rang," 
said Albert to himself. " He will certainly come upstairs again, and 1 had 
better do the same." 

He listened, however, before deciding to retire, and heard M. Bourle- 
roy returning three steps at a time ; then suddenly the sounds ceased, and 
a little reflection enabled Doutrelaise to understand why. The aged 
Lothario, who only wished to re-enter his domicile as a last resort, had con- 
ceived the idea of retreating into the doorway recess of the apartment on 
the second floor, and was waiting there until the person who had just rung 
showed himself, still intending to beat a retreat, if the new comer proved to 
be an occupant of one of the upper floors. M. Bourleroy knew all the 
inmates of the house, employers and servants alike, and he had only to lean 
over the balustrade to learn who the person was. Doutrelaise, who meant 
to adopt similar measures, remained upon the step where he had first 
paused. 

The street door was banged to, and the ring of boot-heels resounded 
along the hall. ' ' This new comer will take his candle, and I shall be able to 
discover who he is," thought Doutrelaise ; but he was mistaken. The new 
arrival crossed the hall, and then his feet came in contact with the first 
step of the staircase. " He is coming up without any light," said Doutre- 
laise to himself, "exactly like the thief I met the other night. That's 
strange. What if he should be the man 1 And why not ? There is 
certainly nothing to prove that he lives in the house." 

The intruder had now begun to ascend the stairs. He did so slowly, 
often pausing and stumbling on his way. "One would fancy he was drunk, " 
murmured Doutrelaise. " Really I no longer know what to think." 

It was a strange situation. On this dark staircase, at an hour when 
honest folks are usually asleep, there were three men, two of them uncon- 
scious of the presence of any other person, and each of them upon a different 
flight. Doutrelaise was half-way between the third and fourth floors ; M 
Bourleroy was on the second landing, while the person who had just come 
in was climbing from the hall to the first one. Doutrelaise, consequently, 
had the twofold advantage of being able to see what was passing below, and 
of being in a position to avoid any unpleasant meeting, but he was never- 
theless terribly excited. His heart beat loudly, and he asked himself in a 



130 THB MATAPAN AFFAIB. 

fever of anxiety how all this would end. The elder Bourleroy gave no 
sign of life, though the newcomer was gradually drawing nearer to him, 
Doutrelaise, who knew the staircase well, and who had very keen ears, 
soon realised that the intruder had reached the first landing, and that he had 
paused there. " So it is Ali just returning home," he thought. "I shall 
discover nothing this evening." 

But he was again mistaken. After a short rest in front of the baron's 
door, the new-comer continued the ascent, but more slowly than before. 
And now it was within the range of possibility that he intended entering 
the count's apartment. 

" What will happen when he reaches that landing ? " wondered Albert. 
" Bourleroy is there. He doesn't move, although he can't be at all easy in 
mind ; and he had better shrink as far back as possible in his corner, for if 
this man intends to enter the count's rooms, they are almost certain to 
come into collision with each other. Bourleroy, who isn't at all brave, will 
certainly call for help, if the man seizes hold of him. What shall I do in 
that case ? Shall I go to his assistance ? Certainly. Not because I am 
particularly interested in him, but because I don't want the scoundrel I 
am watching to escape. Cowardly as Bourleroy is, he will be of some 
assistance in capturing the rascal, and when I once get hold of him I'll 
compel him to explain." 

The sound of the new comer's footsteps had again ceased. He could be 
heard breathing heavily once or twice ; and then there was a profound 
silence. 

"He's getting ready to open the door," thought Albert. "He's pro- 
bably feeling in his pocket for the key. He must be so close to Bour- 
leroy that he could touch him if he stretched out his hand. I shall soon 
know now — " 

"Who the devil are you?" suddenly growled a voice that Doutrelaise 
fancied he recognised. 

" Let me alone 1 don't touch me 1 " responded M. Bourleroy. 

A profound silence followed this exclamation from the aged Lothario, 
Doutrelaise had not lost a syllable of this dialogue but he was as much in 
doubt as before. That Bourleroy, senior, was frightened did not surprise 
him in the least. He knew the man, and had anticipated the scene ; 
but the conduct of the other individual astonished him. The thief he had 
encountered on the staircase a couple of nights previously had not con- 
ducted himself in this manner ; instead of questioning Doutrelaise he had 
remained silent, and after a short struggle had proceeded on his way. 

There was now nothing for Doutrelaise to do but await the conclusion of 

this interesting dialogue, and he did so — not for long however for twenty 

seconds perhaps— and then a bright light illuminated the staircase— the light 
of one of those English matches the importation of which into France is 
forbidden, but which are so superior to the French ones despite the 
strong smell of sulphur they emit. To Doutrelaise the possession of a 
match of this kind seemed almost proof positive that the man who had 
lighted it was a, foreigner like Matapan However this illusion was of 
short duration for the -flaring match held out at arm's length by the new 
comer revealed to Albert s astonished eyes a face that he well knew 

joke f Jo^t'fyot papa°f» ^ *' ^ eX ° Mmed : " Well, this is a good 

6 ame S br i e t at S h. y0U ' ^ ne ' e ' r - d °- We11 ! " re J oined M ' Bourleroy, se „i r, in the 



TUE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 131 

"Ne'er-do-well, indeed I " growled Anatole. "I think I can return 
the compliment. I come home at a quarter past twelve — certainly not an 
unheard-of hour for returning — but certainly an unheard-of hour for going 
out." 

"I, too, was just coming in," stammered the father. 

"Bah ! you spent the evening at home with the commission merchant 
who aspires to the honour of becoming your son-in-law. Don't try to 
deny it. Herminie told me that her suitor was expected to tea this even- 
ing. So what are you up to now, papa ? " 

" That is none of your business." 

" Possibly, but it is some of mamma's, I fancy. I'll have a talk with 
her, not this evening, for she must be in bed, but to-morrow morning — and 
1 shall ask her if — " 

" You will do nothing of the kind. If you say a single word to her, 1 
shall stop your allowance." 

"There would be no fun about that, certainly. But I say, papa, haven't 
you a candle to lend me ? I have just used my last match, and have 
already narrowly escaped breaking my neck at the foot of the baron's stair- 
case. I never can find my candle in the vestibule. I believe that rascal of 
a porter steals it to give to his daughter." 

" AYill you hold your tongue, you scapegrace ? You are drunk." 

' ' Drunk ? Nothing of the kind. The two bottles of port and the dozen 
glasses of champagne I took are not enough to upset me. I was at the 
Rubicon, where I dropped in — " 

"Enough : go up stairs. I've no desire to spend the night in listening 
to your foolishness." 

" Are you coming up too ? " 

" Certainly, as I was just returning when you overtook me." 

"That's another fib," muttered Anatole, junior, who did not appear 
convinced by any means. "I say, papa, 1 lost three thousand francs to- 
night. I should be very much obliged to you if you would give me the 
money to pay them." 

" I !" exclaimed M. Bourleroy. "I would rather cut my right hand 
off than take any money out of my safe for such a purpose. It would only 
encourage you in your dissipation." 

"Dissipation is rather strong. If I had lost my money at baccarat 1 
shouldn't have ventured to ask you for it ; but piquet is a game which even 
the heads of families may indulge in. Look here, now, papa, I ask you 
for the second and last time, will you give me one hundred and fifty 
napoleons." 

" Not one hundred and fifty francs ! " 

"Very well. Then I will ask mamma for the money as soon as she 
open3 her eyes in the morning ; and, as she will refer me to you, I shall be 
obliged to tell her that you refused my request — on the Count de la Cal- 
prenede's staircase." 

The scene was becoming ludicrous, and Doutrelaise, who was still 
listening, would have laughed heartily had he only been less anxious. The 
Bourleroys might come up at any moment, and Albert did not wish them 
to find him perched upon their staircase. So he decided to retreat a little, 
and had hardly done so when he heard this doleful exclamation : " You 
want to ruin me 1 " 

" Pshaw, papa, don't talk such nonsense as that. Any one would think 
you were as hard up as old (Jalprenede, but a paltry hundred and fifty 



132 THE MATAPAN AFFAIB. 

louis J -why, you would never miss them 1 To think that a Iter m ^ g a 
fortune of several millions in the drug business, you might oe fa 

give up your pretty little duckie for want of three thousand trancs ouu, 
if you choose, we will allow mamma to be the judge." 

"You rascal!" exclaimed M. Bourleroy, to appease his anger, and 
then, in a different tone, he added : " I yield, but this will be the last time, 
I am altogether too indulgent, and if your mother knew it she would scold 
me roundly." 

" She will never know it," was Anatole's quick response. " Then I am 
to have the three thousand francs to-morrow morning 1 " 

" Before noon ; but go on. If I remain any longer on this staircase 1 
shall catch a frightful cold." 

Anatole did not compel his father to repeat this order. The stairs 
began to creak under his heavy, uncertain tread, and his father followed 
him, sneezing loudly. "Pleasant dreams, papa!" was Anatole's parting 
salutation. " By the way, if you want to go out, you certainly ought not 
to deny yourself the pleasure." 

His father only replied to this jest by a growl, and they reached the 
third landing together. They did not again light any matches, and 
Doutrelaise was not obliged to conceal himself. He heard their door 
softly open and close again with a feeling of keen satisfaction. At last, he 
was rid of the Bourleroys, and sole master of this staircase so fertile in 
surprises. 

But he had no time to lose. The father might make a fresh attempt to 
leave the house as soon as his son was asleep, and Anatole, who was deeply 
intoxicated, would certainly not lose any time in retiring to bed. Accord- 
ingly Doutrelaise did not hesitate, though he no longer entertained much 
hope of discovering the mysterious intruder. He slowly descended to the 
second floor, and then paused again to listen. He only heard the heavy 
rumbling of vehicles passing along the Boulevard Haussmann, and the 
hoarse notes of a cuckoo-clock in the doorkeeper's room. The bird croaked 
but once, and Doutrelaise was not sorry to learn that it was only half-past 
twelve. "There is still time," he murmured, "and this night may yet 
prove an eventful one in my life." 



XI. 

Albert Doutrelaise now drew from his pocket the key Arlette had in- 
trusted to him, and if he had felt tempted to abandon his rather dangerous 
undertaking, the recollection of the girl he loved would have strengthened 
ins faltering resolution. He felt for the lock, found it, and cautiously opened 
ine door ; then entered a passage and closed the door softly behind him. 
of inr^ fa / n l har with the arrangement of the rooms, and reached the door 
' "!? s , b( rd-room without any serious difficulty. As the long passage 
and thnTmnt • ' and a - s he wa3 afraid of coming in contact with anything 
Cwar t oth P i>^ n °A Setha l tmi 'g ht rouse the ««"»*, he decided to make 
distinguish the ™& ^ J i en ' S bedchambe r, in which he could dimly 

lookmlThe courtva?d a - a Ai C ^- ° f fumit « r e, thanks to the window over- 

^d come f But tfSftoS ^&&^£S^*S» 



THE MATAfAJN Aii'jiIR. 133 

might refuse to listen ; for even if he did not take him for a thief, he might 
reasonably impute even more dishonourable intentions to him. Doutrelaise 
failed to find any satisfactory response to the question he had mentally pro- 
pounded, and consoled himself with the hope that he would escape this 
frightful dilemma. 

Julien's bed-room was exactly as he had left it. The bed, which had not 
been occupied the night before, was smooth and unrumpled. Garments 
were lying about on the chairs ; the tables were covered with books and 
papers, and several pistols and swords hung on the wall opposite the marble 
mantel-shelf, upon which a number of boxes of cigars were piled. The 
door communicating with the study was wide open, a fact which caused 
Doutrelaise unalloyed satisfaction. There was one less difficulty to be over- 
come ; for a lock does not always act noiselessly ; and the nearer he ap- 
proached the count's bed-chamber, the more he dreaded any noise. Before 
proceeding any further, Doutrelaise glanced up at his own rooms on the 
fourth floor, and was pleased to see that Jacques had taken the advice he 
had given him before he had separated. All the lights had disappeared. 
But on looking more attentively, he perceived that although Jacques had 
extinguished tire lamp and candles, he had not extinguished the fire, and 
the reflection of the fitful glare that arose from the wood blazing on the 
hearth shone ever and anon upon the window panes. And this discovery, 
which annoyed Doutrelaise not a little, led to another that greatly surprised 
him. A form was distinctly visible, not at the window of the smoking- 
room, but at the further window, directly opposite Mademoiselle de la 
Calprenede's bed-chamber, and commanding a view of both floors. " What 
is Jacques doing there ? " wondered Albert. "He is not watching for me ; 
he is watching her ; probably her light is still burning. He is thinking of 
her, and yet he solemnly assured me that he did not love her. " For a 
moment he was strongly tempted to return to his rooms and have an ex- 
planation with Courtaumer ; but this would have been the height of folly, 
and his paroxysm of jealousy soon abated. "I have lost my senses," he 
said to himself. "Jacques cannot be a false friend ; he is the soul of honour. 
Why should I trouble myself about such a trifle ? " And thereupon he 
cautiously advanced towards the study in which he was to secrete him- 
self. 

There, too, everything was in its accustomed place, and he had made no 
mistakes when he described the arrangement of the room to Jacques. The 
small cabinet was directly opposite him, at the precise spot where he had 
seen the stranger pause a few nights before. This was the point to watch, 
but he must not remain too near it under penalty of failing in his object. 
Thereupon he turned to the right, made his way cautiously through the 
rather scantily furnished room, and succeeded in reaching the arm-chair 
near the door opening into the corridor, the one which he had previously 
announced his intention of occupying. He first satisfied himself that the 
chair was perfectly steady, that it wonld bear his weight without creaking, 
and he then seated himself in it. His vigil had begun, and it might be a 
long one. He armed himself with patience, and sat as erect and motionless 
as a statue. 

His hiding-place could not have been better chosen, for the room was 
hereabouts veiled in shadow, while near the cabinet it was dimly illumined 
by the light that stole in through the window. Doutrelaise therefore had 
a chance to see without being seen, supposing anything occurred. He had 
not been there twenty minutes when he heard the clock in the adjoining 



LS-l THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

room strike one, and just at that moment his keen ear detected an almost 
inaudible sound. 

Hearing is a sense which often acquires extraordinary acuteness, but 
which cannot always be depended upon. Doutrelaise was one of those 
persons of whom it is sometimes said that they can hear the grass grow. 
No sound escaped him, however slight it might be, and on account of the 
remarkable development of this faculty, he was frequently deceived respect- 
ing the causes that produced these sounds. For this reason, he was inclined 
to distrust himself, and he wondered if he had not mistaken one of these 
inexplicable cracking noises which so often break the silence of night in an 
apartment, for approaching footsteps. Was it the introduction fit a key 
into a lock which had just caused that faint, grating sound ? Or had the 
noise been produced by the count as he turned in his bed in a room which 
was only separated from Doutrelaise by a thin partition ? He waited, pre- 
paring himself for any event. 

Only a few seconds later the noise, which had ceased for an instant, became 
more audible, and could no longer be mistaken. The front door opened, 
then closed again. "At last I shall know if Julien told the truth," 
murmured Albert. He held his breath and pressed his right hand to his 
heart to still its throbbings. On entering the study he had had the presence 
of mind not to close the door leading into Julien's chamber, and the road 
was therefore clear. 

A slow and heavy tread made the flooring creak, in spite of the carpet 
that was spread over it. Doutrelaise, who was a great reader, thought 
of a scene in "La Venus d'llle," Menmee's wonderful story, in which the 
Venus (a bronze statue) becomes endowed with life, and appears at mid 
night to disturb the slumbers of a bride. But that was only a novelist's 
romantic fancy, and the man who was now advancing was no statue, 
although apparently of colossal size. He had now reached the threshold of 
the study, and paused there for a moment. 

Doutrelaise sat silent and motioniess in his corner, and as nearly as he 
could distinguish in the partial darkness, this mysterious intruder was clad 
in a priestly robe which enveloped his entire person, the hood concealing 
even his face. Whence came this colossus, and what had brought him into 
the count's rooms ? Thieves are not in the habit of arraying themselves in 
such a manner when they are going to rob a safe, for they would not only 
frighten people by their strange garb, but the latter might hamper their 
movements considerably if they were discovered. Whatever this man's 
intentions might be, it was evident that he belonged to the house, for when 
a person desires to enter an occupied dwelling, he does not run about the 
streets in a monk's costume. But if he belonged to the house, which of its 
occupants could he possibly be ? "I shall be able to see better when he 
passes the window," thought Arlette's lover. 

But the mysterious visitor did not appear to be in any hurry to do this. 
He remained standing in the doorway, with head thrown back and hands 
extended, in the attitude which the blind generally assume when they are 
trying to find their way. He evidently did not intend to use a light, and 
Doutrelaise, who could easily have furnished him with one, as he had both 
candle and matches in his pocket, did not feel at all inclined to do him this 
favour, as darkness was a great advantage to him under the circumstances. 

After waiting for a short time, the man walked straight on, with a quiet, 
dragging step. His movements were of automatic regularity, and his rigid 
arms seemed to be trying to seize hold of some invisible object. 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 135 

" Where is lie going ? " Doutrelaise asked himself, amazed at this strange 
sipht. "If he continues advancing in that direction, he will come into 
collision with the door of the room where the count is sleeping, he will 
awake him, and who knows but what he will kill hiin ! " At that moment 
Doutrelaise bitterly regretted that lie had not armed himself in accordance 
with Jacques de Courtaumer's advice. Anything would be better than to 
allow Arlettcs' father to be assassinated, and he resolved to make good use 
of his fists in the absence of a revolver or dagger. 

But the man did not advance further. Having passed the embrasure 
formed by the window, he turned his face to the wall and his back to 
Doutrelaise, who was thinking : " Yes, that is the very spot where I saw 
the figure pause the other night. What is he doing ? He is stooping, 
stooping lower yet. One would think he were going to kneel. My God ! 
it is a madman ! " 

In fact, it did seem impossible to explain this nocturnal visitor's strange 
conduct in any other way. The fact of his forcing an entrance into any 
other person's rooms, in the dead of night, merely for the purpose of pray- 
ing on bended knees, seemed a sufficiently conclusive proof of his insanity. 
Nevertheless, Doutrelaise still doubted, and he was right, for he soon per- 
ceived that this genuflection was for an entirely different purpose. The 
stranger's hands were eagerly fumbling in the darkness, and soon a harsh, 
grating noise announced that his task was accomplished. A spring had 
been touched ; and the result was that a panel in the wall slowly moved 
downwards. Doutrelaise divined this rather than saw it, for it took place 
in the darkest corner of the room. A new idea flashed through his mind. 
" There must be a receptable for valuables there," he thought, " this man 
knows of its existence, and comes occasionally at night to visit it. Does he 
do so to satisfy himself that it is undisturbed, or to lay violent hands on 
the treasures it contains, and to empty it gradually, taking one bag of gold, 
or one jewel after another away with him ? Is this person a thief, or is he 
the owner of the hidden treasure ? " 

Doutrelaise did not know what to think, and resolved to wait for the 
finish of this incomprehensible scene. The kneeling man had both his head 
and his hands in the cavity, and he seemed to be actively engaged in 
collecting or arranging its contents. This operation lasted for a couple of 
minutes, which seemed very long to Doutrelaise. Then another spring 
snapped, and the panel slowly resumed its former position. The machinery 
must have been used very often, for it acted quickly and easily. As soon 
as the hiding-place was closed again, the stranger rose, turned to the left, 
and started to leave the room as he had entered it. 

It was time for Doutrelaise to decide upon his course of action. What 
he had just seen, explained but a part of the mystery. A person undeni- 
ably entered the apartments at night : he had -a key to them, and was ac- 
quainted with their secrets. That point was settled ; and it was of no little 
importance, for it might serve to prove that the opal necklace had not been 
carried into this room by Julien, but by some one else. But who was this 
stranger ? That was a point of vast importance. Still, the idea of stopping 
him before he left the room, was not to be entertained for a moment, as a 
struggle between them would certainly awaken M. de la Calprenede. On 
the other hand, it would not do to allow the man to escape, and Albert 
realised the necessity of capturing him as soon as he reached the staircase. 

It was then that he for the first time realised the wisdom of Courtaumer's 
plan of hovering occasionally about the staircase. "Provided he haa 



136 TEB MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

carried it into execution," he thought, as he cautiously followed the hooded 
monk who was leaving the room with measured steps, " we two can easily 
accomplish what I shouldn't be able to achieve alone." 

Doutrelaise regulated his pace by that of the mysterious visitor, and he 
was still in Julien's bed-chamber, when the intruder opened the door lead- 
ing from the corridor to the staircase. As he did so, Doutrelaise perceived 
a faint light. All doubts were dispelled ; Jacques was there. Doutrelaise 
hastily sprang forward to reach his friend in time ; but as he was crossing 
the dark corridor, a powerful hand caught him by the collar. Stupefied by 
this unexpected assault, which could not come from the man in the robe, 
as he was already upon the landing, Albert made a violent effort to release 
himself ; but the hand which had seized him held him in a vice-like grasp. 
" Ah ! so it is you who enter my rooms at night-time," cried the assailant. 
" Don't try to escape me, rascal ! If you do, I will blow your brains out." 

Doutrelaise was overwhelmed with consternation, for he recognised the 
Count de la Calprenede's voice, and understood what had occurred. Ar- 
lette's father had not been asleep, or he had been roused from his slumbers. 
He had heard a noise in the study, and to cut off the intruder's retreat, 
had hastened along the dark passage to the door leading to the staircase. 
He reached it a little too late. The culprit had passed out, but the watcher 
was still there, and the watcher had been caught. 

" Who are you, scoundrel ? ' demanded M. de la Calprenede, shaking his 
prisoner vigorously. 

" You are mistaken, sir," said Albert. " I am not the thief. I am your 
neighbour, Doutrelaise. ' 

" You 1 " exclaimed the count, even more angry than surprised, "you 
here — and at this hour ? What is your business ; and how did you gain 
an entrance ? " 

i( I will tell you, sir. I will explain everything, and you will admit that 
I had only the best intentions, but I entreat you to speak lower. " 

" Do you dare to impose silence upon me ? " 

"At least release me — a moment's delay may ruin everything. Your 
son's honour is at stake. I may be able to save it, but if you detain me — " 

"My son ! You dare to speak of my son, you who so basely slandered 
him, and caused all his misfortune." 

" But if it can be proved that he's innocent, and if he is set at liberty to- 
morrow, you will owe it to me. If you doubt what I say, open this door, 
and you will see someone in whom you have confidence, my friend, Jacques 
de Courtaumer, or at least he was there a moment ago. But if you refuse 
to open the door, he will perhaps pay with his life for the service we have 
just rendered you." 

" Jacques de Courtaumer," repeated the count, who was not prepared to 
hear this name fall from Doutrelaise's lips. 

" Yes, I was waiting outside this door for the man who had entered your 
apartments — and who is either a thief or an enemy— and Jacques is now 
face to face with the scamp, but I don't hear his voice. Heaven only knows 
what has happened ! " 

This was true ; Jacques gave no sign, and yet Doutrelaise was certain 
that he had seen a light on the staircase — a light that Jacques alone could 
have brought with him. How did it happen then that there was no indica- 
tion of a struggle or, at least, an exciting dialogue between his friend and 
the mysterious individual who had just gone out? Doutrelaise explained 
the situation so clearly, and spoke in such resolute tones, that M. do la 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 137 

Calprenede instantly recovered his composure. The scene had taken place 
in complete darkness, the count not having tarried to provide himself with 
a candle, although he had taken a revolver. He had released Doutrelaise 
as soon as he mentioned his name, but had placed himself in front of him 
in such a manner as to bar his passage, and poor Albert dared not lay 
violent hands upon Arlette's father. 

" Give me your word of honour that Jacques de Courtaumcr is outside 
that door," said M. de la Calprenede, suddenly. 

"I swear that if he isn't, that man has killed him : and if he has, the 
man has fled. We shall have no proof, and your son will be lost." 

The count did not reply, but he opened the door and beheld a strange 
scene. The man attired as a monk was standing on the stairs as motionless 
as a statue : one might have supposed he had suddenly turned to stone. 
A few steps below was Jacques, with a lighted candle in his right hand. 
"Thank God ! they are still there," murmured Doutrelaise, although he 
did not understand the scene in the least. 

He stepped forward, however,- and M. de la Calprenede followed his 
example. The stranger did not move ; but Jacques, who had just perceived 
the count and Albert, checked them by a gesture which plainly implied, 
" Watch ; but allow me to act." 

They could not refuse to obey this mute injunction ; so they retreated 
slightly, and gazed intently at the strange scene. Jacques waved his candle 
gently, and the man, as if attracted by the light, began to descend the 
stairs. 

But, at the first step he took he encountered a living obstacle. Jacques 
barred the way, and had no sooner touched this strange being than the 
latter remounted the stairs, instead of tryiDg to force his way past. His 
tall form and broad shoulders were now plainly visible, but not his face, 
which was still half hidden by the hood of a garment which Doutrelaise had 
taken for a monk's robe, but which proved to be one -of those woollen 
mantles with bright stripes, worn by the Arabs of Syria. Jacques now 
advanced and touched him gently. The man recoiled ; whereupon Jacques 
placed himself beside him, shoulder to shoulder, and then the stranger 
immediately turned towards the doorway whence he had emerged ten 
minutes before. After motioning the count and Doutrelaise aside, Cour- 
taumer placed himself behind the stranger and gave him a slight push. 
The eccentric promenader then began to walk straight on before him. 
The door was still open, and without the slightest hesitation and without 
turning he entered the count's apartments. Albert and M. de la Calprenede 
watched these movements in complete bewilderment, not daring either to 
speak or move. "Come!" whispered Jacques de Courtaumer, and they 
followed him mechanically. 

Doutrelaise began to understand that Jacques meant to make a prisoner of 
the mysterious intruder, but he did not yet understand why the man 
allowed himself to be guided with so much docility. The count was com- 
pletely in the dark, and was only silent because he trusted Courtaumer as 
much as he distrusted Doutrelaise. 

Meanwhile the man in the mantle was slowly crossing Julien's bed- 
chamber, and soon he reached the study. Courtaumer, who was behind 
him, gently closed the door and cautiously turned the key in the lock. 
Then, addressing M. de la Calprenede, he said : "Go to the door leading 
into the passage and to the one communicating with your bed-chamber. 
They can be locked on the outside, I suppose ? " 



138 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" Yes," stammered the count, "but — " 

" Quick, I tell you. The bird_ is caged ; don't let him make his escape 
again. He cannot get out on this side, and I will go with you to hasten 
operations." Thereupon he ran into the passage, dragging the count after 
him. 

In the twinkling of an eye he had turned the key of the second door, and 
M. de la Calprenede went on to his bed-chamber to lock the third. " Now 
we can talk," said Jacques, when these precautions had been completed. 
" Let us go back to Julien's room, please." He had assumed command, and 
no one thought of contesting his authority. When the party had regained 
the first room, he deposited his candle on the mantelshelf, and said, in a 
low tone : ' ' Count, your son will be set at liberty to-morrow morning. 
We have the man, who placed the opal necklace in your cabinet, in custody." 

" Yes ; but I can't understand why he should have allowed himself to be 
captured without resistance," murmured Doutrelaise. 

"Didn't you see that he was asleep — that he is a somnambulist? 
He may remain in his present condition for several hours." 

" Is that really so ? Did you see his face ? " 

"I should think I did." 

"Do you know him ? " 

" We all know him. It is Matapan." 

"What, Matapan!" exclaimed the count and Doutrelaise in the same 
breath. 

" Yes, Matapan, " responded Jacques, quietly. "And he is asleep. I 
had been making him turn round and round on the landing for five minutes 
or so when you appeared. This isn't the first time I have seen persons in 
a similar condition. We had a somnambulist among the sailors on board 
the ' Juno.' He would work at the capstan, climb the rigging and descend 
without waking, and, what is still more wonderful, he could hear orders 
and execute them." 

"Matapan!" repeated M. de la Calprenede, in amazement. "And he 
enters my apartment without knowing what he is doing ! Impossible ! " 

" You forget that he occupied these rooms for a long time. No doubt he 
kept a key of the door, intentionally or unintentionally, it matters little 
which, and in his sleep he unconsciously returns here. He has been here a 
dozen, twenty times, perhaps. The other night, for instance, my friend 
Doutrelaise met him on the stairs ; he dealt him a vigorous blow in the 
darkness, and yet Matapan didn't wake up. He continued on his way and 
quietly entered your apartments." 

" Then it was he who brought the necklace here ? " 

" There is no doubt of it, count." 

•• But why did he bring it ? " 

" Oh, that's easily explained. The man is a miser. He hoards gold, 
precious stones, and valuables of every description in his rooms. Of course, 
he was in the habit of doing the same thing when he occupied the apart- 
ments he has since let to you. Now somnambulists act in their sleep as 
they act when they are awake, with this exception, that they don't reason. 
Their actions are merely the result of habit. Consequently, a miserly som- 
nambulist goes to visit his treasures. He handles his gold, caresses it, and 
sometimes moves it from one hiding-place to another. I once heard at Brest 
the story of a man who spent the night in going from his bedroom to the 
cellar to conceal there some bags of gold he possessed, and being asleep all 
the while. The cellar had a trap-door that fastened with a spring lock. 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 139 

One night he shut himself in so securely that he was unable to force his way 
out, and starved to death there. His bones were found I know not how 
many years afterwards. 

" I am perfectly satisfied that this is a similar case. It is evident that 
Monsieur Matapan, in his fits of somnambulism, carried his valuables from 
one place to another. This explains how he came to deposit the opal neck- 
lace in the place where you found it." 

" "Which was a small cabinet near my bedroom door." 

" There is probably a similar article of furniture in one of his own rooms, 
and he undoubtedly thought he was locking the necklace up in it. Perhaps 
he returned to look for it the following night, to take it home again — and 
didn't find it." 

" Then he is not conscious of his acts ? " 

" Oh, not at all, when he is in this cataleptic slumber." 

" And when he wakes up ? " 

" He has not the slightest recollection of what has occurred." 

" Then he was sincere in his charge against my son ? " 

"I think so ; I may even say that I am certain of it. Still, that does not 
alter the fact that his conduct has been dastardly in the extreme. He took 
advantage of a series of most unfortunate coincidences to satisfy the hatred 
which he seems to entertain for you, but he does not suspect that he him- 
self committed the theft." 

" And yet he can't be ignorant that he is a somnambulist." 

" Yes ; perhaps so. Remember that he lives alone, and that it isn't at all 
likely anyone has ever before seen him in this state, as he entertains no 
company." 

" No one visits him in the evening, and his servant usually retires very 
early," remarked Doutrelaise. " So it is not at all strange if he should be 
a somnambulist without knowing it, for if no one has ever seen him in this 
condition, no one could warn him." 

"I his is a matter of minor importance," said M. de la Calprenede. 
" Let us give our attention to the present situation. ' You have locked him 
up, but he will soon awake. Perhaps he has already done so." 

" No indeed ; an attack of this kind usually lasts for several hours, and 
it is only a few moments since he left his room. He will now repeat what- 
ever lie has already done— probably open some article of furniture and search 
for something. Afterwards he will doubtless endeavour to leave as he came. 
Hush! he is already attempting to do so. " M. de la Calprenede started. 
"Yes he is trying to open the door," remarked Jacques. "He has found the 
the lock, but he won't find the key, as it is on this side. You understand 
now why I wanted to lock the doors." 

" Yes ; but this state of affairs cannot be prolonged indefinitely." 

" It will be prolonged until it terminates in a revelation which will be 
satisfactory to everyone excepting Matapan himself." 

" Pardon me, sir," said the count, greatly agitated. " I am deeply grate- 
ful for the interest you take in my son's vindication, and the zeal you dis- 
play under such strange circumstances — so strange that I still fail to under- 
stand how you, and especially Monsieur Doutrelaise, found yourselves in 
my apartments, but I am even less able to understand what advantage you 
hope to derive from establishing the fact that Monsieur Matapan is a som- 
nambulist. " 

" His presence here proves that Julien is innocent." 

"Proves it in a manner satisfactory to you and me, undoubtedly, but 



140 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

Monsieur Matapan will deny it, and deny it honestly. You, yourself, told 
me that when he woke up he would remember nothing of what had passed. " 

" That is true ; but if he wakes up in the presence of witnesses he won't 
be able to deny it." 

" In the presence of witnesses ! You would summon the other occupants 
of the house? Do not think of such a thing, sir. The inmates of this house 
are all hostile to me and mine." 

" Not all of them," rejoined Jacques, glancing at Doutrelaise, who had 
made up his mind to play a silent part. The count was prejudiced against 
him, and it would certainly be better to allow Jacques to do the talking ; 
but for all that, he thought the count's objection very sensible, and waited 
with some anxiety to hear what Jacques would say in response. 

"I foresaw this emergency," said the ex-lieutenant. "Not that I sus- 
pected "Matapan was a somnambulist ; I confess that this possibility never 
once occurred to me. But since yesterday, D utrelaise and I have been 
trying to find out what we could do for your son, who, we are satisfied, has 
been unjustly accused." 

" In your opinion, perhaps, but I think that Monsieur Doutrelaise — " 

" You are mistaken, sir. Your son has no warmer defen'der than my 
friend, Albert, and it is through the information which he furnished, that 
I succeeded in devising a plan which will lead, I firmly believe, to Julien's 
complete vindication. We knew that a man had entered your rooms 
several times, and we suspected that this man was the thief, so we resolved 
to lie in wait for him and capture him. I was to watch on the staircase, 
and Doutrelaise was to wait inside." 

" I should like to know how Monsieur Doutrelaise succeeded in opening 
the door of my apartments ? " interrupted M. de la Calprenede. 

"That will be explained, sir," was Jacques' quick reply, "but the mo- 
ments are precious now, so allow me to state as briefly as possible what I 
intend to do, and then let me go in search of the commissary of police who 
arrested your son." 

" The commissary of police who arrested my son ! " repeated M. de la 
Calprenede. " You expect him to establish Julien's innocence ? You for- 
get that he has been his bitterest accuser. I have your brother's authority 
for that." 

"It is true," said Jacques, "that the commissary in question was at first 
of opinion that Julien was guilty. There are plenty of persons who shared 
this belief, and I admit that even I, at first, had my doubts. I was with 
your son when he was arrested, and I accompanied him to the d6p6t, and I 
confess that his replies did not seem very satisfactory to me. However 
my opinion like that of the commissary has changed. He told me himself 
that his views were modified." 

" What ? Have you seen him again 1 " exclaimed Doutrelaise. 

" I spent an hour with him before coming here, and if I failed to inform 
you of the matter, it was only because I had so many other things to tell 
you. He received me very cordially ; and I told him many things which 
he was quite ignorant of, among others, that the stolen necklace had just 
been deposited in the registrar's office. As Julien was suspected of having 
stolen or pawned it, this was important news, and seemed to change his 
opinion considerably. Then I told him everything ; informed him that 
Monsieur Matapan was a very mysterious personage, and that he had a 
grudge against the Calprenede family. I also reminded him of what Julien 
had said during our drive — that some one had entered his room several 



THE JI/VTAfAN AFFAIR. 141 

times at night — and added that one of my Mends, who lived in the house, 
intended to watch and detect the intruder, if possible, and that I proposed 
to assist him. He told me he should be very happy to be convinced of these 
singular nocturnal promenades ; so I asked him to tell me how and where 
I could find him, in case I needed his assistance. He told me, and now I 
have only to summon him." 

" Rut he must be in bed by this time," murmured Monsieur de la Cal- 
prenede. 

" He will be in twenty-five minutes. However, being an unmarried man, 
he spends his evenings at a small club in the Rue Miromesnil, but a short 
distance from here. I still have a cab waiting for me outside. Will you 
allow me to take Albert with me ? " 

" Monsieur Doutrelaise is master of his own actions," replied Arlette's 
father, coldly. "Still I desire him to return. I have an explanation to 
ask of him." 

' ' He will give it, count, but let its lose no more time now. Matapan is 
still wandering about trying to find his way out. You need feel no anxiety 
about him as long as he continues asleep, but he will wake up sooner or 
later, and it would be advisable for the commissary to be present when 
that occurs. 

"Come, my dear fellow," said Jacques, dragging his friend towards the 
door. 

M. de la Calprenede made no further attempt to detain them, and they 
hastened down the stairs. However, their departure from the house was 
considerably retarded by Marchefroid, who compelled them to repeat their 
names several times, before he would open the door. 

They were also obliged to wake up the driver of Courtaumer's cab who 
was sound asleep on his box, but Jacques soon accomplished this by shaking 
him vigorously. The two friends seated themselves in the vehicle, which at 
once rolled away. Doutrelaise was bewildered by so many strange revela- 
tions, but Courtaumer seemed to be in his element, and rubbed his hands 
enthusiastically. "Ah, well I what do you think of my tactics now?" 
he cried, and then he added : 

" Wasn't I right to insist upon watching on the staircase ? " 

" If it hadn't been for you the attempt would have proved a failure," re- 
plied Albert. " Matapan would have escaped, or he would have woke up 
elsewhere than in the count's apartments, and I should have been unable to 
prove that he had entered them. " 

" While now that we have him in custody, we are sure of worsting him. 
But tell me, did the count put in an appearance while you were watching?" 

" No, not until I was about to follow Matapan. He probably heard my 
footsteps and ran out into the passage, where he collared me. Fortunately, 
I had seen Matapan open the door, so I assured the count that you were 
there, and he consented to see. I repeat that the credit of saving Julien, 
if he should be saved, will belong entirely to you. " 

" Have no fears, my dear fellow. I will arrange matters so that you 
shall have all the credit in the eyes of your divinity. By the way, Arlette's 
father is ignorant that it was she who gave you the key, is he not ? " 

" He will always remain ignorant of it, I hope. At all events, I certainly 
sha'n't tell him." 

" Nor shall I. We must invent some story if he insists upon an explana- 
tion. We can tell him, for instance, that you met Matapan at the door and 
stole in after him. We mustn't betray Mademoiselle de la Calprenede's 



142 THE! MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

secret. Shb will probably confess everything to her father on the day she 
marries you." 

" That day will never come," said Doutrelaise despondently. 

' ' Bah ! I regard your marriage as an accomplished fact. I shall assist 
you as much as I can, and shall also persuade my aunt to espouse your cause. 
But here we are ! I have but one fear : that the commissary may have been 
called elsewhere. Is the house still lighted up ? Yes ; I shall be back in a 
moment : so wait for me here in the cab." 

As he spoke Jacques opened the door, sprung from the vehicle while it 
was still in motion, and hastened into the house. Doutrelaise, left alone, 
tried to collect his thoughts ; but he had little time for reflection, for 
Jacques returned almost immediately with the commissary, whom he 
hustled into the cab, and the next moment they were driving rapidly 
towards the Boulevard Haussmann. 

"Let me introduce my friend, Monsieur Doutrelaise," said Jacques. 
" He occupies the fourth floor of Monsieur Matapan's house." 

"I know," replied the commissary; "it is the gentleman who met 
the plaintiff yesterday. Are you sure that the somnambulist is Baron 
Matapan ? " 

" Perfectly sure. But you will have an opportunity to see for yourself." 

" And I will question him closely, 1 promise you. I have always had 
my suspicions concerning that man. The origin of his fortune has always 
been shrouded in mystery." 

" He may have been a pirate. I know that one of his friends was." 

"I will mention that fact in my report. I shall be very glad if, without 
neglecting my duty, I can do anything to oblige the brother of a magistrate 
for whom I entertain the greatest respect." 

" My brother Adrien is no longer a magistrate ; he sent in his resignation 
this evening." 

" That is bad news." 

"It was on account of this unfortunate affair. Our aunt is one of the 
count's intimate friends, and Adrien feared he might be accused of 
partiality." 

"But if this young man's innocence could be established, your brother 
would probably reconsider a resolution which was the result of exaggerated 
scruples." 

" Possibly," was Jacques' response. 

"Ah, sir, I assure you if it depended upon me — " 

"Here we are," interrupted the magistrate's brother, and hastily alight- 
ing he began to ring the bell. However, the door did not open. Marche- 
troid was not m the habit of obeying the first summons ; but Courtaumer 
had no scruples about disturbing him, and pulled so lustily that at last 
tne bell-knob remained in his hand. Finally, the doorkeeper condescended 
*L™ Ji r ° P ?' f ft .«- taking time to light his lamp, and the next moment 
hi fre^W 1 behcId . t h ' m Ending on the threshold of his room, arrayed in 
his dressmg-gown, with a Jove-like frown corrugating his brow "Where 

of re tlL°otfers g " Thi:S 6d T P T 6iV '>- g - Court ™^ who was in advS 
erf the others. This 1S no hour for voting. Everybody in the house is in 

" Except me," said Doutrelaise as he came in sight. " Give mo mycandle 
if you please. We don't care to break our necks in climbing the stairs " 

" What, is it you, sir ? " grumbled Marchefroid. « Why, you went out 
scarcely twenty minutes ago. " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIK. 143 

" That's very possible, but I'm coming in now. I have a perfect right to 
do so, I suppose," replied Doutrelaise, lighting his candle. 

" You, yes, but these gentlemen — " 

" I am a friend, my dear Monsieur Marchefroid, and this gentleman is a 
commissary of police," said Jacques. " Will you have the audacity to pre- 
vent him from entering the house which the honourable Monsieur Matapan 
has confided to your enlightened surveillance ? " 

" I come in the name of the law," added the magistrate. 

"In the name of the law ! Ah, yes, I understand. You come about 
that Calprenede affair — to arrest the father, probably. A very good thing ! 
Those people have done the baron's house a great deal of harm. If he had 
listened to me, he would have sent them away long ago." 

The commissary, thinking it unnecessary to reply to these remarks, 
walked on towards the staircase. As they passed the door on the first floor 
he asked : " Isn't it here that Monsieur Matapan lives ? " 

"Yes," replied Courtaumer ; "but it was higher up that my friend 
Doutrelaise met him the other night." 

"And very unfortunate it was, for had itnot been for that, no one would 
have thought of accusing Monsieur de la Calprenede." 

' ' True, but the adventure of this evening compensates for all that, as it 
enables us to prove conclusively that the thief was Monsieur Matapan him- 
self. He must have been making these nocturnal expeditions for some 
little time. He moved on the fifteenth of October, and I would wager a 
handsome amount that he has been paying frequent visits to his former 
domicile ever since. He must have a hiding-place there." 

" I know where it is," interrupted Doutrelaise. " I saw him rummaging 
about in it. " 

"You can tell him as much when you are face to face with him," replied 
Courtaumer. ' ' We haven't a moment to spare, for we left Monsieur de la Cal- 
prenede in a rather trying position. He is guarding a caged lion, and, if 
the lion should happen to wake, the count would have plenty of work on 
his hands." 

The conversation ceased when they reached the next landing, "Here 
we are ! " said Courtaumer. " Albert, you have the key." 

Doutrelaise drew it from his pocket and hurriedly opened the door. He 
was eager to know what had occurred during his absence. The commissary 
entered first, and the two friends followed him. The introduction was soon 
over, and the count shortened it by remarking : " I have been awaiting your 
coming with great impatience, sir.' 

" Has Matapan woke up ? " inquired Jacques. 

"No ; after your departure he walked about, feeling the walls and try- 
ing the locks ; but for some minutes I have heard no sound." 

" What can he be doing ? " muttered Courtaumer. 

" I have taken it upon myself, sir," said the commissary, addressing the 
count, "to complete the investigation with which I was formally charged 
a day or two ago. Your character is well known, and I don't in the least 
doubt the facts asserted by the brother of the magistrate to whom the case 
has been entrusted." 

" Monsieur de Courtaumer has told you the truth. He met Monsieur 
Matapan just as he was leaving my apartments, and it is to him I shall be 
indebted for the happiness of proving that my son has not dishonored his 
name." 

" Monsieur Matapan is in that room, is he not ? " inquired the magistrate, 



144 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" Yes." 

' ' And you have only to open the door to prove it. I think it would be 
advisable to summon witnesses to testify to his presence." 

"These gentlemen are here." 

" But these gentlemen are your son's friends, I believe." 

The count made a gesture of denial which applied only to Doutrelaise. 

"Well," said the commissary after a moment's reflection, "lam free to 
act according to my own judgment. "Will you have the kindness to open 
this door ? " 

M. de la Calprenede had advanced to do so, when the commissary, sud- 
denly turning to Courtaumer, asked : 

" He is stiil asleep, is he not ? " 

"I don't doubt it in the least," was Jacques' response. "I have had 
some experience with somnambulists, and know that these attacks are 
generally of prolonged duration. Besides, from what I know of Matapan's 
character, I am sure, that if he was not asleep, he would have tried to Durst 
open the doors long ago." 

" That is very likely. But I cannot question him in his present condition. " 

" No, certainly not ; but I will wake him up, never fear." 

" How will you do it ? " 

" Oh, that's an easy matter. Any violent shock will do it. Only it 
seems to me, it would be better for him not to be aroused immediately. I 
am ajaxious for you to satisfy yourself fully as to Monsieur Matapan's con- 
dition, and to do this you must have an opportunity of watching his move- 
ments for some minutes." And Jacques added : 

" My friend Doutrelaise knows his motive in coming here. He remained 
alone with him nearly a quarter of an hour, and is aware of what he was 
doing in the study." 

Doutrelaise was about to describe the scene he had witnessed when the 
count, who evidently desired to dispense entirely with his services, pre- 
vented him from doing so by saying to the commissary, "It seems to me 
we are wasting time. Let us pass from words to acts. I am going to enter 
the room." 

" Excuse me, sir," said Jacques, stepping forward, "I will enter first, if 
you will allow me. I am almost certain that Monsieur Matapan is 
still asleep ; but if he should be awake, he is quite capable of hiding 
behind the door, knife in hand, and in that case I ought to be the first to 
enter." 

"I do not think so, sir," replied M. de la Calprenede, quickly ; "on the 
contrary, it seems to me that it should be my task, and mine alone, to 
avenge my son." 

W^l he a( * vanc , ed in , s «ch a way as to bar Courtaumer's passage. It is 
itwo,lVw„7 ■ g ! h | S g enerous controversy might have lasted, and how 
and hlsWv onPnfn^ a ^ d ' ^ not D^elaise settled it by springing forward 

^^^^^to^^?^*^ in on S c hand, and 
followed him with +h„ n™„* w "nout the slightest hesitation. Jacques 

weramazeTtrsee wha ToutoelliseTaTS ° f T^ The ^ <*"" 
on his knees before the wIRS the ■"vnflol ^^^^-Matapan 
detected in this posture, evinced no incl7nTt1on to Sot ^ He'did not ^ 
turn. He was evidently in a profound cataleptic slumber and th '^ 
had not aroused him from it, although Doutrelaise, in his'eagern L^ad' 
turned the key without taking any precautions whatever "This i 



THE MATAPAN AFFATR. 145 

wonderful I " muttered the commissary. " Evidently he has heard 
nothing." 

" You recognise the fact that this man is a somnambulist, do you not ? " 
inquired the count. 

" Undoubtedly; but—" 

" Ah, well, let us put an end to this, so that you can question him." 

" I promised to do that," interposed Jacques, quickly. 

AA'ith one bound he reached Matapan, who was on his knees, and standing 
behind him, he seized him by both shoulders and pulled him violently 
backwards. The sleeper's head struck the floor so violently that it re- 
bounded, and the hood which had concealed it fell back, revealing the 
strongly marked features of the landlord, while an energetic oath showed 
that he had regained possession of his mental powers. " Where am I ? " he 
growled, sitting up and gazing around him with angry eyes. 

"In your ,former apartment," replied Jacques de Courtaumer. " Good- 
morning, baron. Shall I give you my hand to help you up ? " 

Matapan deigned no response to this ironical offer, and managed to regain 
his feet unaided. As soon as he had done so, he instinctively leaned for 
support against the wall before which he had been kneeling, and gazed 
with mingled stupefaction and anger at the four men who surrounded 
him. "Take time to recover yourself. We are in no hurry," said 
Courtaumer. 

Matapan did not require long to regain his composure ; he had evidently 
been accustomed to finding himself in trying and unforeseen positions. " I 
don't know you," he said, addressing the ex-lieutenant, "so it is of Mon- 
sieur de la Calprenede that I must ask an explanation as to why he has 
brought me here. If it is to 10b me as his son has done, I warn him that I 
have neither money nor jewels upon my person." 

" You wretch ! " muttered the count. 

" Be calm," whispered the commissary. 

" I forbid you to speak in that manner," interrupted Albert, angrily. 

" Ah, so you are here, Monsieur Doutrelaise," sneered Matapan. "It 
would seem to be a conspiracy. You hope to extort money from me, but 
you won't succeed. I warn you that if you don't allow me to leave this 
room, I shall open the window or break it. I shall call for help, and I assure 
you that I shall call loud enough to be heard from the garret to the cellar. " 

" Xo one here has any intention of injuring you, sir," said the commis- 
sary, who until now had kept in the background. 

" What do you want ? " vociferated Matapan. "And in the first place, 
who are you ? A hired assassin ? Take care, scoundrel, you will have a 
hard struggle with me." 

" Have a care yourself or you will pay dearly for your insults. I am a 
commissary of police, and I came here to question you." 

" You a magistrate ! — you look more like a grocer. Where is your sash ? " 

"If you persist in this insolence, I shall send one of these gentlemen to 
the nearest station-house for two policemen who will recognise me, I assure 
you, and who will arrest you for insulting an officer of the law in the dis- 
charge of his duty." 

This was said with such an air of determination that Matapan's manner 
changed. " What is required of me ?" he asked brusquely. " And why 
have I been brought here ? " 

" Then you are ignorant how you came here?" 

"Certainly; I certainly did not come of my own accord. I begin to 



146 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

think I have been forced to swallow a narcotic, and that some one took me 
from my room when I was asleep." 

" You have indeed been asleep, but no one has drugged you. You are a 
somnambulist, baron," said Jacques de Courtaumer. 

"la somnambulist ! Whom do you hope to convince that I am a som- 
nambulist ? My habits are known. I go to bed at ten o'clock, and rise 
with the sun, and I sleep eight and sometimes nine consecutive hours." 

"Admitted, but not in your bed. You spend your nights wandering 
about. " 

" I defy you to prove that." 

"It is already proved. You were found at one o'clock this morning in 
one of the Count de la Calprenede's apartments. You certainly are not 
going to try and convince the commissary that a fairy transported you 
there in your sleep. Feel in your pockets, and you will find there the 
key to the rooms you occupied last year." Matapan mechanically put his 
hand in one of his pockets, and his face assumed an expression which was 
sufficiently convincing. " You use it almost every night," continued Jac- 
ques. " And you made use of it on the night before last when you brought 
a certain opal necklace here." 

" Ah ! so this is what you are aiming at ! " exclaimed Matapan. " You 
have invented this farce to deceive justice." 

" Excuse me, sir," interposed the commissary. "I represent justice and 
the law here, and I am playing no farce. I have seen sufficient to satisfy 
me, and I shall testify to what I have seen. I shall also state in my report 
that just now, when Monsieur de Courtaumer awakened you, you were on 
your knees before the wall against which you are now leaning. " 

On hearing this Matapan started, and advanced into the middle of the 
room. 

"Yes," added Doutrelaise, "before the wall in which you have con- 
structed a hiding-place for your valuables. I was here ; I saw you press a 
spring, and I saw the panel descend." 

" So you were in the study ? " said the baron with a diabolical smile. 
"It was no doubt Mademoiselle de la Calprenede who concealed you 
here." 

Matapan had hit the nail on the head. His instincts seldom played him 
false. He had discovered the weak spot of his adversary's armour. The 
count turned pale with anger : Doutrelaise was greatly agitated, and even 
Courtaumer lost a little of his wonted coolness and composure. He was not 
prepared for this blow, but he instantly endeavoured to parry it. The 
commissary alone remained unmoved. He did not fully understand the 
import of the baron's words. It was doubtful if he even knew that M. de la 
Calprenede had a daughter. But he had heard Doutrelaise's assertion, and 
he desired to have its truth verified. 

"Come, sir," he said, severely, "it matters very little to me how the 
gentleman, who lives on the fourth floor of this house, found his way here ; 
but I am anxious to know what he has seen. I therefore request, and even 
command him, if necessary, to complete his deposition, for this is a deposi- 
tion. I am acting at this moment as the representative of the magistrate 
to whom the investigation of the affair has been intrusted. So will you 
have the goodness to tell me exactly what occurred, sir ? " he added, turning 
to Doutrelaise. 

Albert pointed to the wall, near the window, and replied, unhesitatingly : 
" I am willing to swear that there is a secret cupboard there, and that 



TTTB MATAPAN AFFAIR. 147 

Monsieur Matapan camo here to-night, as he must have done frequently 
before, to visit it." 

The baron shrugged his shoulders, but his face grew visibly paler. 
Again a blow had struck home, only this time he was the person hit. 
"Whom will you convince of that?" he asked, sneeringly. " Besides, of 
what use would this pretended place of concealment be to me? To enable 
me to play the spy on my tenants ? That is what you mean, I suppose ? " 

"You know very well that I mean nothing of the kind. This secret 
cupboard was a receptacle for your valuables when you lived in the rooms 
that Monsieur de la Calprenede now occupies. You must have a similar 
one on the first floor, and at night-time when you are asleep, you carry 
your valuables, such as your opal necklace, for instance, from one hiding- 
place to the other." 

" Yes, sir," said the commissary. " The important thing is to explain 
why you were kneeling before that wall just now. Oh ! we discovered you 
in that posture. Don't deny it ; I was here. And Monsieur de Conrtaumer 
was obliged to seize you by the shoulders and pull you on to the floor to 
wake you. What explanation have you to give ? " 

" None," replied Matapan, angrily. " If I was kneeling it was probably 
because I had grown weary of standing. You declare that I am a somnam- 
bulist, and you must admit that a somnambulist does not know what he is 
about." 

"We admit that on waking up he does not remember what he did while 
he was asleep, but he does not act without an aim." 

"I certainly had none when I came here. I am not on very intimate 
terms with the count ; so it could not have been habit that brought me 
here." 

" It was the habit of visiting the gold and valuables you have concealed 
in this room," said Doutrelaise. 

" The same absurd story ! " exclaimed Matapan. 

"The valuables are there in that wall ; the cupboard is concealed by a 
movable panel that descends when a spring is touched, and which is re 
placed in a similar manner. Since you have been in the room, you have 
probably opened and closed this cupboard several times. No one watched 
you while you were a prisoner, but I was here when you first entered the 
room." 

"Ah, you were!" exclaimed the baron, ironically. " With the count's 
permission or that of his — " 

" Baron," hastily interposed Courtaumer, " if you make any attempt to 
finish your sentence, I will knock you down and treat you to a sword- 
thrust to-morrow or the day after to-morrow, besides — " 

" I am not afraid of you." 

"Nevertheless I advise you to hold your tongue. Go on, my dear 
Albert." 

Matapan muttered a few unintelligible words, but he made no further 
attempt to interrupt Doutrelaise, who continued his narrative by saying : 
" I saw you come in. You advanced slowly with your hands outstretched, 
and as the hood of your mantle concealed your face, I did not recognise 
you ; but I did not miss a single one of your movements. You went straight 
towards that spot, knelt, and immediately pressed the spring." 

"Then you know where this spring is, Monsieur Doutrelaise," inter- 
rupted the commissary. 

" Pretty nearly. It must be near^the floor. I was too far off to be able 



148 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

to speak with certainty ; besides, I suppose it isn't visible. The person 
who had this hiding-place constructed, probably took good care to have the 
spring concealed in some moulding in the wood-work ; but by looking care- 
fully, I am sure I should be able to find it." 

" The baron might save us the trouble of looking," remarked the com- 
missary, turning to M. Matapan. 

" Let me alone, and put an end to this farce," replied the landlord coarsely. 
' ' I suppose you have nothing to gain by keeping me a prisoner here ? " 

"No; but I wish you to be present at the opening of this receptacle. 
When you have admitted in my presence that there is a hiding-place, and 
that it contains valuables which belong to you, you will beat liberty to retire." 

"As if I were not at liberty to do that already ! " 

" Try it, and you will see," said Courtaumer. 

" Very well. It is evident that this is a forcible sequestration in which 
a so-called magistrate has been induced to lend a hand. I shall have no 
struggle with you, but as for you," the baron exclaimed, shaking his fist at 
the commissary, " I shall report your conduct to your superiors. I shall 
go to the prefect of police or the public prosecutor — " 

" Do so ; you will only have the trouble of tolling your story. They 
will have heard it all before you see them, for I shall send in my report as 
soon as I leave this place. Monsieur Doutrelaise, will you have the good- 
ness to take a light and look for the spring ? " 

Doutrelaise required no urging. Placing one of the candles on the carpet, 
and assuming the attitude previously adopted by the somnambulist, he 
began a careful examination of the wood-work. Matapan trembled with 
anger, and his agitation showed that a fierce conflict between those power- 
ful passions, hatred and avarice, was raging in his soul. " Allow me to 
give you some advice, sir," the commissary said to him. "My mind is 
made up in regard to your case and that of Monsieur Julien de la Cal- 
prenede ; and my opinion will be shared by the magistrate when he hears 
of the existence of the hiding-place which you have just visited in your 
sleep. There is little doubt but what it contains valuables which belong to 
you, and which will be immediately restored to you if you claim them ; 
but should you persist in denying that they are yours, I shall be obliged to 
take possession of them in the name of the law, and deposit them in the 
registrar's office, where your opal necklace has already found its way. You 
will consequently be obliged to confess the truth sooner or later ; but I 
presume you have no intention of losing your property, so you will save 
yourself a great deal of trouble by a plain statement of the facts." 

" I have found the spring," exclaimed Doutrelaise. " It is only necessary 
to press it to make the panel descend." 

M. de la Calprenede and Jacques de Courtaumer were standing directly 
behind him. Matapan hastily advanced, and the commissary did the same. 
" Look !" said Doutrelaise, as he raised the candle and held it in such a 
position that it lighted up the hiding-place. 

The gold, articles of silverplate, and jewels, piled haphazard on the shelves 
of the cupboard, sparkled brilliantly. 

"When you take an inventory of the valuables concealed in your other 
hiding-place, you will discover that the articles you see here are missinc 
from it," said the commissary, looking searchingly at the baron. 

" That is quite possible," retorted Matapan, intensely exasperated. " I 
must have forgotten them when I moved. This doesn't prove, however that 
I brought the opal necklace here." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR 149 

" Then you admit that these articles belong to you ? " inquired the com- 
missary. 

" I don't see why I should deny that they arc mine," replied Matapan 
in a surly tone. "I have no desire to make my tenant a present of them. 
I will even admit, if you like, that I am a somnambulist, and that I some- 
times wander about my own house at night. I have a perfect right to do 
so, I think. I wasn't aware that I had this unpleasant habit, however, 
and you have just done me a service by informing me of it. In future I 
will arrange to avoid it. But I repeat that this doesn't change the aspect 
of the Calprenede affair in the least, and I warn you that I shall not with- 
draw my complaint." 

" You are free to persist in it, of course, sir," said the commissary with 
unruffled calmness ; " but what you do is no longer of any great consequence, 
and the magistrate won't consider it necessary for you to withdraw your 
complaint before he releases a prisouer whose innocence is now clearly 
established, for I am sure that the magistrate's opinion will coincide with 
mine. The case will be submitted to him to-morrow morning. In the 
meantime, I must draw up a report which these gentlemen will sign as 
witnesses. " 

" Interested witnesses, so that their evidence is open to suspicion." 

" You will be able to satisfy yourself that it is correct, for you will be 
obliged to sign the report as well." 

" I ? Never ! for I defy you to compel me to do so." 

" I have no intention of doing that, I assure you. I shall content myself 
with reporting your refusal. And this being the case, I will detain you no 
longer." 

"Then I can go? That is really fortunate. But my gold and silver 
plate, and the other contents of the cupboard ? " 

"Will all be returned to you, as you know very well ; but the existence 
of this treasure must first be announced to the magistrate. I think that 
this apartment and yours will be visited to-day. They would be examined 
immediately if the hour was not so late. As for the valuables concealed 
here, they are perfectly safe." 

"How do you know?" said Matapan, insolently. "Now that the 
method of opening the cupboard is known — " 

" Baron," again interrupted Jacques de Courtaumer, "you shall answer 
to me for this insolence. " 

" Begin by paying me what Julien de la Calprenede owes me." 

"Gentlemen," interrupted the commissary, " all this has no connection 
with the subject. Do you desire, baron, that this movable panel should be 
sealed in your presence with wax upon which you shall place your private 
seal ? " 

" No, that would be equivalent to an admission that what you have done 
here is scmething more than a farce. " 

" As you please. Then 1 shall take the responsibility of leaving every- 
thing in its present state until to-morrow." 

" Very well, I am going." 

" Doutrelaise, hold a light for the baron," said Courtaumer, who was 
greatly elated. " He ought not to be allowed to return to his apartments 
without a light. It would be even dangerous. Now that he is awake, he 
might break his neck on the stairs." 

Matapan was literally foaming with rage, but he preferred to wreak his 
vengeance upon Doutrelaise, who was more vulnerable than Jacques, and 



150 TTIE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

turning to him he cried ; " You still have a part of my necklace, I believe. 
When will you return it to me ? " 

"When you give Count de la Calprenede the key of his apartments," re- 
torted Doutrelaise. 

"Here it is," said the baron, drawing it from the pocket of his mantle, 
and throwing it on the table. " It would also be advisable for you to return 
the one which was lent you to enable you to enter his rooms." 

On hearing this Albert turned white with rage, and the count again 
trembled with anger. 

" I warn you, too," continued Matapan, " that I sha'n't deny myself the 
satisfaction of telling my friends and acquaintances that, in order to play 
the spy on me, you spend your nights in Monsieur dela Calprenede's rooms, 
and in the same wing in which his daughter's apartment is located. Ah ! 
they are truly hospitable here ! " 

" You scoundrel ! " exclaimed Doutrelaise. 

Once more, however, the commissary interposed. He took Matapan by 
the arm and led him away, saying : "I, too, am going. We will go down 
together. Monsieur de Courtaumer, will you allow me to use your cab ? 
I will send it back immediately." 

"No, no," replied Jacques. "I claim the right of accompanying you 
home. I owe you at least that, my dear sir. We will all form a part of 
the baron's guard of honour, and we will take leave of him on reaching his 
apartments. I sha'n't offer him my arm, but I will carry the candle," Then r 
turning to the count, he shook hands with him, saying as he did so : " Thii 
has been a fortunate evening. My dear aunt will have pleasant news when 
she awakes to-morrow morning ; and, who knows ? Adrien will perhaps 
consent to withdraw his resignation, now that all is satisfactorily explained. 
Are you coming, Albert ? It seems to me you can now go to bed in a con- 
tented frame of mind. Your evening hasn't been lost." 

Doutrelaise was exceedingly anxious to escape from M. de la Calprenede, 
whose frowning face was anything but reassuring, but that stern gentleman 
curtly said : " Remain, sir, if you please ; I desire to speak with you." 

Albert could only comply with a request so clearly expressed. So he 
bowed his acquiescence, and Courtaumer did not insist upon taking him 
away. The worthy fellow was convinced, too, that an explanation with 
Arlette's father could not fail to be of advantage to his friend. 

As soon as Jacques, the commissary and Matapan had left the apartment, 
the count exclaimed: "I have no doubt, sir, but that you have been 
actuated by the best of motives in your endeavours to capture Monsieur 
Matapan, and I rejoice that you have been successful. Still, I am surprised 
that you did not leave Monsieur de Courtaumer the task of unmasking this 
man. I have the honour to be on the best possible terms with his aunt, 
the Marchioness de Vervins ; so it was perfectly natural that Monsieur de 
Courtaumer should take an interest in my son, and try to help him. But 
by what right do you meddle with these matters ? Is it because you are 
one of our neighbours ? " 

" I was Julien's frieud," stammered Doutrelaise. "I am still, and " 

" My son never informed me of that. I even know that he has had just 
cause to complain of you. An indiscretion of which you were guilty caused 
this unfortunate affair. I am willing, even anxious, to believe that this 
was entirely due to thoughtlessness on your part, and will refrain from re- 
proaching you ; but I do insist upon knowing how you happened to enter 
my apartments to night ? " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 151 

'* My sole object was to capture the man who was in the habit of enter- 
ing your son s room. Julicn had told me that such was the case, and I had 
good grounds for supposing that the man would pause in this study. I 
swear to you, sir, that I should have gone no further." 

"That is much further than you would have been allowed to penetrate 
with my permission. You probably forgot that I was not the only person 
living here. Others have remembered the fact, however. You heard the 
comments made by that scoundrel just now ? I scorn them, but he will re- 
peat them elsewhere, and if I do not silence him summarily my daughter's 
reputation may suffer. I therefore ask you to furnish me with the means 
of refuting them, and, to do so, you must tell me how you obtained the 
key." 

" I — yes — I found it," murmured Doutrelaise, who longed for the ground 
to open and swallow him up, "and I will return it to you at once," he 
added, placing it on the buhl cabinet. 

"You certainly cannot expect me to be satisfied with such a reply. 
Confess, sir, that you bribed one of the women in my employ to give it to 
you." 

" No, no — I swear it." 

" Very well, I see that you don't intend to tell me the truth, so it is use- 
less to prolong the conversation. You may go, sir ; but please recollect, in 
future, that the mere fact of being a neighbour does not authorise certain 
liberties, or indulgence in certain hopes. Consider the matter ended." 

Doutrelaise, dismissed in this manner, could only leave the room without 
a word, which he did, overwhelmed with consternation. The count escorted 
him to the door with haughty politeness and then returned to the study, 
where he found his daughter weeping despairingly. As he entered the 
room, she flung herself in his arms, and exclaimed in a voice broken by her 
sobs : " I heard everything ! It was I who gave him the key." 

" You, great heavens ! Unfortunate child, are you mad ? " 

" No ; I love him," murmured Mademoiselle de la Calprenede. 



XII. 

Three days had elapsed since Matapan, detected in the act, had been com- 
pelled to admit that he was in the habit of visiting the secret closet in the 
little study nearly every evening. The commissary had made his report, 
and the mystery was cleared up. A little too late unfortunately, for 
Adrien de Courtaumer's resignation had been tendered, and the over con- 
scientious magistrate thought he ought not to withdraw it. But the truth 
was too evident not to strike the colleague who had taken his place. 
Julien's innocence had been established ; Matapan, again summoned to 
testify, had not dared to assert that the opal necklace had been stolen from 
him by his young neighbour. Overwhelmed by incontestable evidence, the 
baron had admitted that the magistrate's decision was just, and if Arlette's 
brother was not yet at liberty, it was due solely to the fact that formalities 
are of paramount importance in France. 

However the count and his friends were jubilant, Jacques de Courtaumer 
was triumphant, and Madame de Vervins in ecstasies. She was doing her 
best to console Adrien who was mourning over his blighted career, and even 
proposed to dower his daughters, the eldest of whom was only nine years 
old. Adrien, the most sensitive of nephews, had all the difficulty in the 



152 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

world to prevent her from bestowing upon him gifts which would have 
seemed too much like a reward. As for Jacques, she petted him, and 
almost overpowered him with her attentions, but she no longer urged him 
to marry. The fact is the count had informed her of the confession made 
by Arlette, who no longer made any attempt to conceal the fact that she 
loved Albert Doutrelaise, and had not been cured of her passion by all her 
father's arguments. For the first time in her life, Arlette shewed a will of 
her own, and he greatly feared that nothing would daunt it. She promised 
not to marry Albert if M. de la Calprenede persisted in his refusal to sanc- 
tion their union, but she was firmly resolved to refuse all other suitors for 
her hand. The count still hoped that time would weaken this determina- 
tion, but he was greatly perplexed and disappointed, and he asked the ad- 
vice and assistance of his old friend Madame de Vervins. 

The marchioness listened with the closest attention, and was at first 
almost as inconsolable as the count. This unexpected passion annihilated 
her dearest hopes. Arlette would not accept Jacques, and as the latter 
would certainly make no attempt to supplant his friend in Arlette's affec- 
tions, it seemed very probable that he would remain a bachelor, and that 
the name of Courtaumer would die out, for all Adrien's children were 
daughters. 

Madame de Vervins began by anathematizing Doutrelaise, who had 
crossed her path at such an inopportune moment. She even promised M. 
de la Calprenede to reason with Arlette and convince her that the fourth 
floor tenant was not at all suited to her. But afterwards her opinions un- 
derwent some modification. She said to herself that the dear child had not 
chosen so unwisely after all, and besides, Jacques praised his friend so highly, 
and succeeded so clearly in convincing her that if it had not been for this 
generous and clever friend, Matapan would never have been foiled. So she 
soothed the count, reminded him that the days of imprisoning refractory 
daughters in convents were over, and declared there was no danger in his 
retaining his present quarters as Arlette's lover wisely abstained from 
making any further advances. Fiually, she requested M. de la Calprenede 
to leave the settlement of the affair to her, and he gladly consented to do 
so. Madame de Vervins began operations by inviting the father and 
daughter to dinner, with her two nephews — Adrien's wife and three or 
four old friends of her own age : an ex-sea-captain, a retired officer, and a 
couple of dowagers. She announced, moreover, that it was quite possible 
two or three intimate friends might drop in after dinner. 

J alien was not to be of the party, as he had not yet been set at liberty, 
but his release was momentarily expected, and this was a sort of fete, given 
in honour of his complete vindication. His father accepted the invitation, 
and the apartments in the Rue de Castiglione were illuminated as brilliantly 
as for a ball. At nine o'clock the company rose from table. The dinner 
had been delicious — and what was better still, it had been a very gay one. 
Even the Count de la Calprenede had felt obliged to assume a smiling face, 
and his daughter had not appeared noticeably depressed in spirits. She 
felt thankful to Madame de Vervins for not having seated her beside 
Jacques at table, and this made her hope that the marchioness had re- 
nounced the project which had once alarmed her so much. Still, Arlette 
fancied that Madame de Vervins was preparing for something, probably a 
conversation with her, for she had bestowed many affectionate glances upon 
her during the dinner ; but she was not afraid, for she knew that Jacques' 
aunt was the best and most indulgent of women. They lingered a long 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 153 

time over their coffee, and then Jacques and the representatives of the 
military and naval professions went to the library to smoke, while Madame 
Adrien de Courtaumer returned home to nurse one of her daughters who 
was poorly. Her husband remained, however, and Madame de Vervins lost 
no time in making up a whist party to engage his attention and that of the 
two dowagers and Count de la Calprenede. 

Arlette understood these manoeuvres, and was not at all surprised when 
the marchioness took her gently by the hand, and whispered, after kissing 
her affectionately : "These people are all engaged now. Come with me, 
little one, and we will talk together like a couple of friends." 

Arlette allowed herself to be conducted to the good lady's favourite corner, 
sequestered, as it were, by the folds of a screen brought from China by her 
deceased great-uncle, the Knight of Malta. When the old lady was com- 
fortably installed in her armchair, and had made Arlette sit down close be- 
side her, she looked her straight in the eyes, and said, smiling : " My 
dear child, I have brought you here to confess. You suspected it, didn't you ?" 

" I read it in your face while we were at the table," murmured the young 
girl. 

" Then as you know the subject on which I desire to speak to you I will 
omit all preliminary remarks, and put the great question, Do you love him ? " 

" With my whole soul," replied Arlette, without displaying the slightest 
embarrassment. 

"You don't conceal your sentiments, and you are perfectly right," ex- 
claimed Madame de Vervins gaily. "I detest hypocrites, and I equally 
abhor the people who answer with downcast eyes and ambiguous phrases. 
Frankness is a trait that becomes women of noble birth. You are a Calpre- 
nede, and no Calprenede ever told a falsehood. I knew that when your 
brother was accused, and that is why I defended him from the first. But it 
is equally true that the Calprenedes have never married beneath them." 

" I shall be guilty of no mesalliance," replied the young girl, quickly. 
"I shall remain as I am; but my love is not dependent upon my own 
will." 

" Well answered, my dear child. In other words, you would rather be 
unhappy all your life, than marry against your father's wishes. That is 
very noble ; but I do not think any one has a right to demand such a sacri- 
fice of you. The question is, are you not deceived respecting the sentiment 
that Monsieur Doutrelaise has inspired in your heart ? In the first place, 
what do you know about him ? Where have you met him ? " 

"Everywhere in society — at Monsieur de Fourrilles', at Madame de Ren- 
nevilliers', and at your own house, madame." 

" True, he has been invited here several times as was natural, for he is 
very intimate with Jacques. But I confess that I don't recollect him very 
distinctly. People tell me he is very good-looking, and you must certainly 
think so ; but I am anxious to judge for myself, and I have invited him to 
drop in this evening." 

" What ! you would consent — " 

"To receive him at my house? Most assuredly. He has been here bo- 
fore, and I hope he will come again this evening. I am expecting him." 

" This evening ? " repeated Mademoiselle de la Calprenede, turning pale 
with emotion. 

"Yes," replied the marchioness, smiling. "You will see him. _ It is a 
little surprise I planned for you, my dear. Confess that old ladies have 
some good qualities." 



154 TUB MATAFAN AFFAIR. 

" I see in this another proof of your kindness of heart, madame ; but I do 
not know that my father will approve — " 

" Your father ! Oh ! I have not consulted hiin. I am at liberty, I think, 
to receive any one I choose in my own house. Besides, he knows perfectly 
well that Monsieur Doutrelaise is my nephew's most intimate'friend, so he 
cannot be offended with me for inviting him. Nor do you imagine, I sup- 
pose, that I have invited your lover here to give him an opportunity of pay- 
ing court to you. In that case, your father would have a perfect right to 
be angry. But I have had no such object. I simply wished to satisfy my- 
self that you had chosen wisely. I should like to know this young man 
better ; to have an opportunity of studying his character. When I know 
what kind of man he really is, I shall give you my advice. What do you 
think of my plan? " 

" Oh ! madame, how can I express my profound gratitude for your kind- 
ness ! I little expected to find an advocate in you — " 

"Why? Because I was anxious for you to marry Jacques? I don't deny 
that I desired the match. I should have been delighted to call you my 
niece. But I soon discovered that you were not at all inclined to grant me 
this satisfaction, and to tell the truth, Jacques was not much more inclined 
to gratify me than you were, so I gave up the project. Jacques tells me 
that he is firmly resolved to remain a bachelor. Accordingly, your marriage 
with him is now out of the question. Moreover, he told me how he had dis- 
covered that his friend entertained a deep affection for you, although he 
had done his best to conceal the fact from every one. I must admit that I 
thought the better of Monsieur Doutrelaise on that account ; in the first 
place, it proved that he had good taste, and was cautious. It cost Jacques 
any amount of trouble to extort a confession from him, though he cer- 
tainly had no reason to blush for his love ; still, my nephew would never 
have succeeded, if this necklace affair had not occurred. On hearing that 
your brother was accused of a crime, Monsieur Doutrelaise betrayed his 
love by his intense desire to save Julien. He has succeeded in doing this. 
Indeed, I do not know how we should have escaped from the difficulty had 
it not been for him." 

" And Monsieur Jacques de Courtaumer and yourself," added Arlette. 

"Oh, I did all I could, but I only succeeded in getting my nephew 
Adrien into a very unpleasant predicament, for which his wife will never 
forgive me. As for Jacques, he greatly helped in capturing Monsieur 
Matapan, but it was Monsieur Doutrelaise who originated the scheme, and, 
by the way, your father tells me you abetted him." 

" The same idea had occurred to me," murmured the young girl. 

" And you could devise no better plan than to pay your young neigh- 
bour a visit one morning." 

" I knew that Monsieur de Courtaumer was there." 

" A great protection the presence of that young scapegrace must have 
been ! But how about the key which you entrusted to your lover ? " 

" It was the only means of foiling my brother's accuser, and proving the 
falseness of his charge." 

"And you would also like to add that Monsieur Doutrelaise is an 
honourable man, quite incapable of taking advantage of his position, and 
that the whole affair ended most satisfactorily. In short, you would like 
to repeat what I have already said to myself, and you feel sure that I shall 
forgive you. You are right, I shall not be more severe than your father. 
Still it is true you have been guilty of great indiscretion. Matapan suspects 



THE M ATA I' AN AFFAIR. 155 

it and the scoundrel is quite capable of circulating scandalous reports about 
you." 

"Monsieur Doutrelaise will not allow it," was Arlette's quick response. 

" Nor Jacques either," added the marchioness, laughing. "He assured 
me that he should take it upon himself to chastise the rascal if he ventured 
to say one word, but I think a duel between any of the parties would only 
increase the publicity, and in my opinion the best way to silence gossips 
would be— Can't you guess ? " 

"!No, madame. " 

" For you to marry Monsieur Doutrelaise as soon as possible. When he 
is your husband, or even when your engagement is announced, no import- 
ance whatever will be attached to this story about the key." 

" Oh, madame, if you could only be induced to say that to my father, he 
would listen to you undoubtedly, and I might hope — " 

"But this is exactly what I shall say to him, my dear child. I should 
have said it already had I not desired to consult you before acting. I am 
now satisfied in regard to your feelings, as well as in regard to the 
merits of Monsieur Doutrelaise, and the advantages of a marriage which I did 
not desire, but which, nevertheless, seems very satisfactory to me. Jacques 
tells me that his friend has a very handsome and safely-invested fortune ; 
a point of no little importance, as your father has been foolish enough to 
sink three quarters of his belongings in unfortunate speculations. Jacques 
also tells me that Doutrelaise belongs to a very old and highly-respected 
family. One of his ancestors held the office of Councillor under the 
monarchy, and was offered a title, which he did not deign to accept, 
however, so that his descendants have remained commoners. This is un- 
fortunate, to be sure, but a great deal of credit is due to the young man for 
not writing his name with an apostrophe after the D." 

" He abhors deceit," said Arlette, proudly. 

" I should need nothing more than the manner in which you utter those 
words to convince me that you love him," remarked Madame de Vervins 
gaily ; " and I am satisfied that he is worthy of your affection, for I know 
through my nephew that he is brave, honourable, intelligent, and good. I 
know, too, that he did his duty courageously during the war with Germany, 
and that he has always conducted himself in an irreproachable manner. 
Jacques thinks him really too conscientious. I regret that he leads an idle 
life. It would be much better for him to engage in business or even to 
serve the government. It seems, however, that he has a taste for the fine 
arts—" 

" He is an excellent musician." 

"I will take your word for it without putting his talent to the test this 
evening, for my old friends hate the piano. But I intend to talk to him as 
«'e old-fashioned people talk. Oh, don't be alarmed on his account 1 Our 
conversation will not last long, a quarter of hour perhaps, and after that 
I will tell you if he is worthy of you." 

" Is it really true that he is coming ? " inquired the girl, blushing at the 
mere thought of seeing him. 

" Yes, certainly, and lovers never fail to profit by such an opportunity. 
My nephew Jacques took him my invitation this morning, and the poor 
fellow was overcome with joy. It isn't necessary to add that he accepted, 
»lthough he is terribly afraid of your father, who dislikes him." 

" So does my brother, I am told," murmured Arlette. 

''They will both change their opinions. If they don't, they will be very 



156 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

unjust, my dear child, for if it had not been for Monsieur Doutrelaise, 
Heaven only knows what would have become of the honour of your name. 
I will make them listen to reason, Jacques will assist me, and I am anxious 
he should be here when Monsieur Doutrelaise arrives. If I don't send for 
him he will stay in his present quarters all the evening, so do me the favour 
to go and see if those enthusiastic smokers haven't ceased poisoning the air 
of my library by this time. Tell them I insist upon their immediate return 
to the drawing-room. Make haste, my dear. It won't be long before 
your lover makes his appearance. I am even surprised that he has not 
arrived already." 

Arlette did not compel her hostess to repeat the request, but instantly 
rose to obey her with a lighter heart than she had known for many a day. 
She had expected to be scolded and catechised by Madame de Vervius ; but 
she had only had to listen to affectionate advice such as any loving mother 
might bestow upon her daughter. Better still, Madame de Vervins had 
cheerfully renounced her former hopes, and espoused Albert's cause. 

On going into the library, Arlette found the smokers there lounging upon 
the divans. The old officer found an occasional opportunity to relate some 
anecdote of the court of Charles X., but the conversation was chiefly 
maritime in its nature. The retired sea-captain was relating his adventures, 
and as he had spent a good deal of time in the China seas, with which 
Jacques de Courtaumer was also familiar, the conversation was extremely 
animated. Mademoiselle de la Calprenede entered just as the ancient 
mariner was furnishing an account of his unsuccessful chase after some 
Malay pirates whom he had pursued for a long time. Their chief, 
a very crafty scoundrel of unknown nationality, who had captured and 
destroyed at least twenty vessels belonging to a Dutch colony, had always 
succeeded in escaping from his pursuers. " The scamp must have secured 
an incredible amount of spoil," continued the old officer. " Among other 
prizes he captured a ship bound for Java, with a prince of that country, 
who had visited Paris under the Restoration, on board. Your great- 
uncle, who was very fond of collecting Oriental curiosities, had known 
him during his sojourn in France. However, the unfortunate nabob was 
murdered some twenty years ago by the scoundrels in command of the 
craft I speak off, and all the valuables on board were stolen." 

" Tell my aunt about that," said Jacques, as he sprang up to meet 
Arlette, who was just entering. " I am certain that it will interest 
her extremely, for she well remembers our relative, the Knight of 
Malta." 

"Gentlemen," began the young girl, gaily, "Madame de Vervins is 
complaining of your absence, and sends me to remind you that she is 
alone in her favourite corner, her lady friends being engaged with my 
father and Monsieur Adrieu de Courtaumer at the whist-table." 

" We are entirely at her service," said the old officer, gallantly. " Our 
friend here is entirely to blame for our protracted absence, for he would 
persist in talking to us about pirates, although I should infinitely prefer 
hearing you play Mozart." 

" Is that really true? Madame de Vervins told me just now that you 
detested music." 

The old officer was about to protest against such a charge, but Jacques 
led Arlette away. He offered her his arm to escort her back to the draw- 
ing-room, but to reassure her as to the meaning of this attention, he said 
in a subdued tone : " I hope my aunt has told you that she is expecting 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 157 

our friend this evening. I went to deliver the invitation in person, and I 
assure you that no urging was required to induce him to accept." 

"Oli, sir," murmured Arlette, with an emotion which her face and voice 
plainly betrayed ; " how can I express — " 

"Don't express it at all. I am delighted to have effected my aunt's 
conversion, and I assure you that Albert will complete the conquest." 

" I greatly fear that he will never make a conquest of my father." 

"That will perhaps be a more difficult task, but it will be accomplished 
sooner or later. I have already begun by praising him enthusiastically, 
and Monsieur de la Calprenede did me the honour to listen without 
interrupting me, so you see we have made some progress. Still I am a 
little surprised that Albert has not yet arrived. He is always remarkably 
punctual, and there are special reasons why he should be so this evening. 
It is already ten o'clock, and in my aunt's house whist-parties are not pro- 
longed until morning." 

" I know it, and I am beginning to feel rather anxious. This Monsieur 
Matapan must be anything but amicably disposed towards you and Monsieur 
Doutrelaise." 

" Oh, yes, he hates us with true Corsican hatred — in fact, he has virtu- 
ally declared a vendetta against us. But I have taken the affair into my 
own hands, and will attend to him. Have no fears, mademoiselle ; in ton 
minutes or so, Albert will be here and all will be well." 

The marchioness summoned the delinquents to her side as soon as they 
entered the room, and they formed a circle around her. Arlette, however, 
did not seat herself, but soon went to look over some music to hide her 
agitation. It was only natural that she should be deeply affected, for that 
evening was to decide the happiness of her whole life. Jacques had the 
discretion to refrain from following her, and she was left quite undisturbed, 
the two old gentlemen whom she had brought from the smoking-room 
having seated themselves mear Madame de Vervins. Her father was en- 
grossed in his game, for whist even at half a franc a counter is an absorbing 
diversion, and M. de la Calprenede had for his partner a dowager who was 
constantly inquiring what were trumps. 

The old sea-captain soon resumed his recollections of Madame de Vervins' 
ancestor, the Knight of Malta, and the conversation did not flag. The 
marchioness was fourteen when her great-uncle died, and she remembered 
his face, costume, and peculiarities perfectly well. She even remembered 
the Java prince, in whose honour the old chevalier had given a/Ste in 1824, 
and she had been presented to this Oriental dignitary, who had con- 
descended to compare her to a Bengal rose. "He talked in the style of 
the characters of the ' Bourgeois Gentilhomme,' " she said gaily, " and I 
always wondered where my uncle had met him." 

" You forget, my dear madame, that the chevalier had formerly served 
in the East," replied the captain. 

" Very true, but this prince was very young even in 1824." 

" Nor was he very advanced in years when the pirates killed him twenty 
years ago. Your uncle had met his father in India, and esteemed him 
highly. So he welcomed the son very cordially for the father's sake. They 
got on remarkably well together, for they both had a passion for precious 
stones, and the rajah had any quantity of them. I can still remember a 
certain opal necklace which he wore about his neck, and which your uncle 
wanted to purchase from him. The rajah would not consent to part with 
St, however, but he lent it to your uncle for several days, and the chevalier 



158 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

exhibited it to all his friends. I was only a child at the time, but he 
showed it to me as he probably did to you." 

"An opal necklace ! " repeated Madame de Vervins, who had been thrown 
into a state of extraordinary agitation by this explanation. "Yes, I 
recollect it now, I have seen and handled it. And you tell me that it fell 
into the hands of some pirates ? " 

" Yes, it was stolen by the pirates who killed the unfortunate rajah." 

Just then, the footman opened the door and gently announced : "Mon- 
sieur Albert Doutrelaise." 

The old servant had not forgotten the instructions of his mistress, but 
although he announced Doutrelaise in a subdued tone, the name made 
several persons start. 

Arlette turned pale, and opened a portfolio of music to conceal her em- 
barrassment. Jacques looked up, and hastened forward to meet his friend ; 
M. de la Calprenede fidgeted in his chair, and played so absurdly that the 
dowager in front of him cried : <: What ! you don't trump ? Ah, my dear 
count, that is a great mistake. Am I not right in saying that anybody else 
would have done so ? " 

The count made no response. He was glancing alternately at Doutrelaise 
and Madame de Vervins, asking himself what had brought his neighbour 
into this drawing-room, and hoping that the marchioness would show him 
to the door. Aclrien de Courtaumer also scrutinized the countenance of 
this witness whom he had summoned, but who had failed to present him- 
self. Meanwhile Madame de Vervins rose quickly. " Would you 
recognise that necklace if you saw it again ? " she inquired of the sea- 
captain. 

" I was only thirteen years old when your uncle showed it to me, and I 
am now sixty-nine, so my recollection of it is not very distinct ; but it was 
so beautiful that there can't be many like it in existence. I remember that 
the opals seemed to me as large as pigeon-eggs, though it is true that I then 
saw them with childish eyes. Nevertheless, I think I should recognise the 
necklace now, if it was shown to me. " 

" I shall perhaps have an opportunity to put your memory to the test, 
my dear captain." 

" What ! has the scoundrel who stole it offered to sell it to you ? Ah ! 
your nncle wouldn't have missed such an opportunity." 

" No, that is not the case. We will resume this conversation later on, 
for I must now go and receive my nephew's friend, the young man Francois 
just announced." 

" He isa handsome fellow, upon my word ! Has he ever served in the navy?" 

Madame de Vervins did not reply, she had advanced a few steps, just 
enough to bestow a gracious welcome on the new-comer, without displaying 
an eagerness and cordiality that would have aroused the count's suspicions 
at once. Jacques de Courtaumer had already monopolized Doutrelaise. 
He had hastened towards him with both hands extended, and had placed 
himself in such a position as to screen his friend from the persons who were 
watching him. "Don't be afraid," he said in a low tone. " My aunt is 
very kindly disposed toward you. Display all the old-time gallantry in 
your manner towards her ! The father means to keep an eye on you, but 
have no fears. I will take care of him." And he added quickly : 

" But why are you so late ? " 

" Monsieur Matapan was the cause of it, 1 have had a violent scene 
with him — " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 159 

" What has the scoundrel dared But this is no time for conversa- 
tion. Come and let me present you to my aunt." 

It was time, for Madame de Vervins stood waiting, and she was not ac- 
customed to wait. Jacques took his friend familiarly by the arm and led 
him towards her. " I scarcely know how to express my deep gratitude, 
ma-dame," began Doutrelaise, " for an invitation which — " 

" Allow mc to cut your compliments short," interrupted Madame de 
Vervins, smiling. " In the first place, I have already had the pleasure of 
seeing you at several of my balls — when I gave balls — besides, you are the 
oldest and best friend my nephew has. I have reproached him a long time 
for not bringing you to see me at my Wednesday at-homes ; but the scape- 
grace himself is always disappointing me. You must bring him, and 
between you both, you will rejuvenate us a little. We stand greatly in 
need of it." 

This was said loud enough for everybody to hear it, and the little speech 
was evidently intended to explain the advent of this unexpected guest to 
the count. The latter listened with a frown on his brow, and the 
marchioness resumed : " I will introduce you to all our friends at the con- 
clusion of the game. Whist is an exciting divinity, and wejmustn't disturb 
its worshippers, so come and talk with me if an old woman's society has no 
terrors for you." 

To tell the truth the game had been greatly neglected since the arrival of 
Doutrelaise. Adrien de Courtaumer had ceased to take any interest in it, 
and M. de la Calprenede was making blunder after blunder to the great de- 
light of the dowagers, who both pretended to play much better than he 
did. Madame de Vervins had taken in the whole situation at once, and 
had devised a plan to prevent any change while she talked to Arlette's 
lover. "Jacques," she said, "do me the favour to prepare the back- 
gammon-board for the captain, who owes Monsieur de Boisrobert an 
opportunity to revenge himself." Then turning to Mademoiselle de la 
Calprenede, who was apparently absorbed in the examination of a piece of 
music, she added : "My dear child, you must give us a little music. These 
gentlemen care very little for it, but you can play softly. Choose one of 
Schubert's compositions and soothe us. If we should be in any danger of 
falling asleep the sound of the dice will arouse us." 

No one protested against the old lady's orders. The two old gentlemen 
adored backgammon, and Madame de Vervins did not often allow this 
rather noisy game in her house. As for Arlette, she did not even hope 
that Albert would venture to speak to her in M. de la Calprenede's 
presence, and she deemed herself fortunate in being provided with an occu- 
pation. The piano is an instrument which seems to have been made for the 
express purpose of allowing young ladies to isolate themselves, and to ex- 
press their feelings unreproved. So Arlette began to play from memory 
the prelude to " Le Roi des Aulnes," a ballad which was a great favourite 
with the marchioness, and the sweet and melancholy strains of which 
harmonized well with the musician's mood. 

Meanwhile Madame de Vervins made Albert take a seat beside her, and 
opened the conversation by saying abruptly : "Do you know, my dear sir, I 
have executed a perfect coup d'etat by inviting you. I am in imminent danger 
of a quarrel with my old friend, the count \ but I have not acted without 
due reflection, or without making many inquiries about you ; and if I have 
espoused your cause, it is only because I consider you almost certain to 
make Arlette happy. I shall not tell you that she loves you. You know 



160 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

that even better than I do ; I even think she has been rather too forward, 
and that she has compromised herself a little by going to see you. I have 
just scolded her severely for that escapade, and I think the only way of re- 
pairing this blunder is to marry you both, so I am going to try to accomplish 
it ; still, you must not take it amiss if I ask you a few questions." 

" Speak, madame, and I assure you that no matter what you ask — " 

" Very well, but don't promise too much. I know that you are honest, 
and I am sure I can depend upon your sincerity. I don't ask the amount 
of your fortune. I know that ; you have always lived handsomely, but 
you have never made any inroads upon your patrimony. I wish I could say 
as much for my nephew Jacques ; however, I am not equally well informed 
concerning your relatives and connections." 

" My mother died in bringing me into the world, and I lost my father 
while I was at college. I was brought up by my mother's brother, General 
Merignan, who died ten years ago. I have no other near relatives. As for 
my intimate associates, I go into society very little and have only one real 
friend—" 

" And that is Jacques de Courtaumer. You might have made a worse 
choice, for he loves you with all his heart. So you are free from all 
cliques and objectionable acquaintances, and as a natural consequence, you 
are in a position only to receive such persons as you wish to receive when 
you are married. You are not yet one of us, but you will soon be, and per- 
haps your example will convert my nephew. The count is slightly 
prejudiced against you, it is true, but he will soon get over it. On what 
terms are you with his son ? " 

" On excellent terms, at least I thought so, but Jacques tells me that 
Julien is very angry with me for having been the involuntary cause of a 
deplorable mistake." 

" But you have more than atoned for that by unmasking Monsieur 
Matapan. Now my dear sir, I will broach another subject. You are 
aware that Mademoiselle de la Calprenede has no dowry. " 

"I should be only too happy to make my entire fortune over to her," 
said Doutrelaise eagerly ; "and I entreat you to believe, madame — " 

"That is sufficient, my dear sir," interrupted Madame de Vervins ; 
" that is being even too generous and disinterested. But I see that 
Monsieur de la Calprenede is leaving the table, no doubt with the intention 
of taking his daughter away, and I am going to try and detain him. We 
can resume our conversation a little later on. You play whist, don't you ? " 

"I play the game — very badly," stammered Doutrelaise, who was 
totally unprepared for this question. He had not come to play whist, and 
his conversation with the marchioness was far more interesting. 

"Make a sacrifice for me," said Madame de Vervins. " You must have 
no conversation with Monsieur de la Calprenede before I have pleaded 
your cause with him. Take his place at the whist-table. My friends will 
be extremely grateful to you, for the game will end if you refuse to take 
the fourth hand and all my guests will leave ; while, if Monsieur de la 
Calprenede sees you occupied, he will abandon the idea of going until after 
he has had a talk with me. Insure me time to plead for you." 

" I am at your orders, madame, but — " 

" Come, come, don t let my friends leave the table. And don't be too 
much appalled by the prospect. Some pleasant diversions will be allowed. 
You will have a chance of listening to Mademoiselle de la Calprenede 
who is about to sing, and even of looking at her." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 161 

After this mischievous remark, the marchioness presented Doutrelaise 
to the dowagers as an enthusiastic amateur, burning with a desire to be 
their partners. They greeted him with effusion, and had they had any 
voice in the matter they would have unhesitatingly bestowed Arlette's 
hand upon this polite young man, who was so ready to devote himself to 
their enjoyment. Adrien de Courtaumer also gave him a cordial reception, 
for he had no grudge against him, and was not sorry to make his acquaint- 
ance. M. de la Calprenede had just left the table after paying the money he 
had lost, and he was now proceeding towards the piano, with the evident 
intention of urging his daughter to conclude Schubert's ballad as speedily 
as possible, for he was not only anxious to get her away, but to manifest 
his displeasure at Doutrelaise^s presence by an early departure. 

Madame de Vervins, who had foreseen this step, was prepared to prevent 
it. As soon as the introductions were over, she approached Arlette, and 
had already found time to whisper : "Have no fears, my child, but sing 
us ' Le Roi des Aulnes' very slowly — as slowly as possible. In that case, 
your father can't claim you. When you have finished the ballad, I will 
ask for one of Mozart's sonatas — the longest one I can think of — and, 
while you are executing that, I will eulogize your lover in such enthusi- 
astic terms, that I shall, perhaps, succeed in converting my old friend 
before we part." 

Arlette thanked her with an eloquent look, and began the air in such a 
weak and trembling voice that it was almost inaudible. But the marchion- 
ess did not have an opportunity of employing her persuasive powers with 
the father. Jacques had perceived the situation, and he, in turn, had 
resolved to prevent the count's departure ; so he advanced leisurely to- 
wards him, and began by asking a question that was sure to interest him. 

" May I ask, sir," he said, " if my aunt was mistaken in assuring me 
the other day that you had a business enterprise to propose to me ? She 
pretends that I could be of service to you in some matter ; but that was 
all she would consent to tell me." 

"It is true, sir," replied M. de la Calprenede, "and I should have 
broached the subject before, if I had not been so unpleasantly occupied for 
several days past. " 

" And for the same reason, I have been unable to call on you and place 
myself at your disposal ; but now that Monsieur Matapan is foiled, and 
this absurd affair ended, I eagerly embrace an opportunity to offer you my 
help, if it will be of service to you" in any way." 

" It is indispensable to me," replied the count, quickly. 

" Then rely upon me, sir. What do you propose to do ? " 

" It will take some time to explain, and I fear I shall bore you ; besides, 
it is late, and I — " 

" My aunt adores music, and Mademoiselle de la Calprenede won't 
escape until she has played at least half a dozen pieces. You surely will 
not be so inhuman as to take her away before she has finished. So, we 
have at least three quarters of an hour at our disposal. Why not employ 
it in giving me a brief account of your plans. I can then tell you at once 
if I think I am capable of performing the part you have kindly allotted to 
me, and we can conclude our conversation to-morrow. Shall we seat our- 
selves a little apart from the others, on that sofa at the other end of the 
room ? " 

The count hesitated. He was exceedingly anxious to interest Jacques de 
Courtaumer in the enterprise, upon which all his hopes for the future 

P 



1G2 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

depended ; but he also wished to prevent a meeting between Arlette and 
Doutrelaise, which he suspected the marchioness of having plotted to effect. 
However, a glance around the drawing-room reassured him. Arlette was 
singing in one corner of the room, guarded by Madame de Vervins ; and 
Doutrelaise was chained to the whist-table. "Well, sir," the suspicious 
nobleman replied, after a short silence, "though it will be impossible 
for me to enter into details now, I can give you some idea of my scheme." 

" That will suffice for a beginning," replied Jacques, leading the way to 
the sofa he had chosen. 

"I must first ask you to keep what I tell you a secret," remarked the 
count, as soon as they were seated. " Now, tell me, would you be willing 
to leave Paris ? " 

" Leave Paris ? " repeated Courtaumer, considerably surprised. "What 
do you mean ? If you mean forever, I must confess that — " 

" It would only be for a few months at the longest, and you would be 
able to return whenever you chose to do so." 

" Under those conditions, nothing would suit me better. I should have 
the pleasure of obliging you, and the advantage of being out of the way of 
temptation for a time. This would be a very good thing, for the season 
hasn't opened well. I lost in a single night, last week, half of my yearly 
income." 

" If we succeed in the undertaking I am going to propose, you will be 
able to lose several thousand louis without the slightest inconvenience," re- 
plied Arlette's father smiling. 

" What ! do you propose working some unknown gold mine in California 
or Australia ? " 

" Far from it. But are you familiar with the coast of Brittany ? " 

" I am much more familiar with that part than with the Boulevards and 
the Champs-Elysees. I once spent six months on a government steamer, 
intrusted with the protection of our western fisheries. We had on board a 
hydrographer, whose mission it was to correct the maps on certain points. 
He deputized me to make the soundings, and there is not a rock between 
Nantes and Saint-Malo that I don't know. " 

"It certainly must have been Heaven that suggested to me the idea of 
applying to you. Now, I have no longer any doubt of our success." 

" Nor I, siuce you say so ; but I am wondering in what way my limited 
experience as a sailor can be of service to you. " 

"I will explain, my dear Jacques," replied the count, becoming more 
and more affectionate in his manner. "Two years ago I was in London. 
Upon the recommendation of a Frenchman, who kept the hotel where I 
stopped, I assisted a poor American sailor who had been picked up at sea 
and brought to England. He was the sole survivor of a ship-wrecked 
vessel's crew, and had been found clinging to a chicken-coop, half dead 
with cold and exhaustion, after being buffeted by the waves for twelve 
hours. I had him properly cared for at my expense, and gave him some 
money ; but he had undergone too many hardships to recover, and he died. 
But he did not carry with him to the grave a certain secret which he had 
in his possession, and which was worth millions. He confided it to me out 
of gratitude — " 

" Ah, I begin to see what you mean. The vessel was laden with gold or 
silver, and the surviving sailor knew where it was ; but — What" is it, 
Francois ? " Jacques hastily inquired, turning to the valet who had just en- 
tered the room, and was »ow standing be*i4e him. 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 163 

" I should 1I*.<.<; to say a word to you, sir," muttered Francis, who really 
appeared terrified. 

" Very well ; say it," was Jacques' response. 

"I should like to speak to you alone." 

" Why don't you go to my aunt ? " 

"Madame has nothing to do with the matter on which I desire to speak 
to you, sir." 

" Francois, you are too fond of mysteries, and you must allow me to 
converse with Monsieur de la Calprenede for a moment longer. Be kind 
enough to remove the empty cups from the tea-table. As soon as you have 
done that, come back, and I will listen to you. " 

The old servant reluctantly obeyed. 

"The vessel contained twelve millions," continued the count, when 
Frangois had moved away. 

" That would indeed be a godsend," said Courtaumer, laughing, " but 
unfortunately it didn't belong to the sailor who told you about it. The 
ship was insured, I suppose, and the company that paid the amount of the 
insurance was of course the owner of the wreck." 

" I knew that, and the sailor was equally well aware of it, for he had 
come to London for the express purpose of negotiating with the company. " 

" Hum ! I fancy that he did not meet with a very encouraging recep- 
tion. The ship was not his property." 

" Xo ; but everybody supposed that it was lost in mid-ocean. He alone 
knew that the vessel had been wrecked upon a rock very near the coast ; 
so the secret was his, and the secret was worth millions." 

" Did you buy it from him ? " inquired Jacques. 

' ' He wished to sell it to the company, but as I had alleviated the misery 
of his last hours, he gave it me freely and unreservedly." 

" I am inclined to think that the gift was not very valuable." 

' ' Why ? " inquired the count, surprised and almost angry. 

"Because this pretended secret was known to more than one person. 
I'm sure of it. A ship wrecked near the coast does not disappear like a 
juggler's ball.' 

"You are mistaken, sir. No one else knew what had become of the 
ship. I have satisfied myself on this point." 

" I don't doubt what you say, of course," replied Courtaumer, who found 
it difficult to preserve his gravity, " but it is very difficult to believe that a 
shipwreck in sight of land #as not witnessed by some one, or that some 
trace of it has never been discovered. Still such a thing might happen ; 
anything is possible. Matapan's story is no less extraordinary than this 
one of the submerged millions, lost to everybody save one solitary indivi- 
dual. Only allow me to remind you that this man had no right to transfer 
to you, even gratuitously, a property that did not belong to him." 

"You are telling me no news. I am perfectly well aware that the 
underwriters were the lawful owners of the lost vessel, and you will do me 
the justice to believe that I have never thought for a single instant of de- 
frauding them." 

"Of course. You might as well ask me if I think you capable of 
robbery." 

"So I made a proposition to them," said M. de la Calprenede, in a 
rather aggrieved tone. " I said to them : ' You don't know where the 
shipwreck occurred, and it is not likely that you will ever ascertain ; but I 
have information which leads me to hope that I may succeed in finding the 



164 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

gold. It is an extremely hazardous undertaking that I have just proposed 
to you, but I am willing to assume the risk. How much will you take for 
the ship and her cargo ! ' At first they even refused my offer, and I very 
well understood why. They wished to exhaust every possible source of 
information in the hope of discovering the secret which the sea still 
guarded, but which had come into my possession in such a strange way. 
They were not successful, however, for at the end of eighteen months, when 
I had almost ceased to think about the affair, they wrote that they were 
willing to negotiate with me. I returned to London, and signed a contract 
by which all the rights of the underwriters were ceded to me." 

" In consideration of the payment of a large sum of money, I suppose ? " 

" One hundred and twenty -five thousand francs." 

" And you paid it ? " 

" In cash, although it took nearly all that remained of my fortune. But 
I did not think the price too dear." 

"One hundred and twenty-five thousand francs is nothing in comparison 
with twelve millions, it is true ; but — " 

"But what?" 

"Excuse me, count, but Francois is hanging about us like a soul in dis- 
tress. Will you allow me to say a word to him to put him out of his 
misery ? " 

At a gesture of acquiescence from M. de la Calprenede, Jacques beckoned 
to the old servant, and said to him, in a low tone, " What is the matter ? 
Speak, if you like, but be quick." 

"If monsieur would only consent to leave the room with me for a 
moment," said Francois, entreatingly. 

"Really, you worry me beyond endurance. Does any one desire to see 
me?" 

" Yes, sir — that is to say, not you, but — " 

" Francois, the mystery of the Sphinx is as clear as crystal in comparison 
with your discourse ; but you can tell the person who deputized you to 
summon me that I must beg of him to wait a few moments : and now that 
you have received this satisfactory response, vanish. Your conversation 
with me will displease my aunt, who is even now watching us." 

Francois obeyed, but not without bestowing upon Jacques a beseeching 
glance, which plainly implied : "I entreat you, sir, not to delay too long. 
The matter is important." _ 

" I should have thought, count, ' said JacqTTCs, again turning to M. de la 
Calprenede, "that before paying such a large amount you would have 
satisfied yourself that the wreck was at the place indicated." 

" I did so — at least so far as it was in my power to do it. Before visiting 
the underwriters I made a short excursion to Brittany, and recognised the 
ledge upon which the vessel had struck — the shipwrecked sailor had given 
me a minute description of the surroundings — but the people in the neigh- 
bourhood had no knowledge of the event, and I took care not to begin a 
search which would have aroused their curiosity." 

"A wise precaution, but I am very much afraid it was useless. Still, 
you were probably not satisfied with a single expedition ; you doubtless re- 
turned to the coast afterwards." 

" No, for the very good reason that the insurance company was con- 
stantly watching me through its emissaries, and I knew it. If I had been 
imprudent enough to pay a second visit to the coast where the disaster oc- 
curred I should have lost my chance, and it was only because I took such 



THK MATAPAN AFFA1TI. 165 

care to guard my secret that the underwriters were at last induced to 
make terms with mo. I have since learned one amusing item. It seems 
that they had received from one of their agents a report in which he de- 
clared that I had squandered my entire fortune in rash speculations, and 
that this one had captivated me on account of its novelty. He also stated 
that I must have been made the dupe of some unreliable person. The 
underwriters thought themselves very shrewd to take advantage of what 
thoy called a Frenchman's folly, and they were very glad to sell me their 
claim to an irrecoverable cargo, for five thousand pounds." 

" That isn't at all strange," replied Jacques, repressing a strong desire to 
laugh. " I understand their reasoning, but I hope they will soon have 
cause to regret their bargain. It seems to me there is nothing to prevent 
you from beginning operations now. You have nothing more to conceal 
from them now that you are the lawful owner of these millions." 

" Yes, there can be no possible doubt on that point. The contract can- 
not be annulled either in England or in France. 1 have only to take posses- 
sion of my property now." 

"And that is where the real trouble begins, it seems to me," said 
Courtaumer, smiling. " If you are really inclined to enlist me in it, how- 
ever, I — Why, here is Francois back again. The old fellow must have 
been bitten by a gnat this evening ; he can't keep still. This time he 
appeals to my friend Doutrelaise." 

The old servant had just re-entered the drawing room ; but instead of 
proceeding towards the sofa where M. de la Calprenfede and Jacques were 
sitting, he approached the whist-table, and whispered a few words in 
Albert's ear. If Francois was guilty of such a liberty with one of Madame 
de Yerviiis' guests, and particularly with one whom he did not know, it 
was evident that the message he had been charged to deliver was one of 
exceptional importance. "What the devil can he have to say to him ? " 
thought Jacques. 

The count had paused in his revelations to see what was going on near 
the fireplace. 

The situation was virtually unchanged. Arlette had finished " Le Roi 
des Aulnes," and was now executing one of Mozart's compositions to the 
great delight of Madame de Vervins, who was keeping time with her head. 
The two officers had just stopped playing after an exciting game. The 
old military man had beaten the naval officer, and the latter, vexed at his 
defeat, had turned his back on his victorious rival, and seated himself 
behind the chair of one of the dowagers, with the laudable intention of 
advising her. The old military man on his side had rejoined the marchioness 
near the piano. Chance had placed Doutrelaise in such a position that on 
his right, he could see Mademoiselle de la Calprenede, and on his left 
Jacques, talking with Arlette's father, and he had profited by the oppor- 
tunities thus aliorded, for whist was the game he most abhorred. Cour- 
taumer noticed with considerable anxiety that he changed countenance 
while listening tc Franeois, and was not a little surprised at what followed 
After a short conversation with the servant, Doutrelaise asked the naval 
officer if he would have the kindness to take his place for a moment, which 
request was eagerly complied with. Whereupon Doutrelaise stammered 
an excuse to his companions, and rose and left the room without glancing 
at any one. 

To say that the players regretted his departure would be an untruth, for 
his blunders had exasperated them almost beyond endurance ; but Arlette, 



166 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

who had been equally absent-minded, as was proved by the false notes that 
slipped from her usually skilful fingers, was greatly agitated on seeing him 
leave the room, for her feminine instinct warned her that something of an 
unfortunate nature had just occurred. She glanced inquiringly at Madame 
de Vervins, who had been surprised, and even a little shocked, by Albert's 
abrupt departure ; however, with an encouraging gesture the old lady not 
only reassured the young girl, but bade her go on murdering the sonatas of 
the immortal composer of " Don Giovanni." 

M. de la Calprenede said nothing, though he felt very uneasy. Jacques 
had no difficulty in fathoming the cause of his anxiety. The count was 
evidently afraid that when Doutrelaise re-entered the drawing-room, he 
would not return to the whist-table, but approach Arlette. Music is an 
excellent pretext, and Doutrelaise knew it. The count had not forgotten a 
certain conversation between his daughter and Doutrelaise at a concert in 
the Champs-Elysees, and he felt a wholesome dread of Mozart. He was 
on the point of rising to take Arlette away, when Courtaumer, to avert 
the danger, hastily resumed the conversation that Frangois had inter- 
rupted. 

" It certainly isn't necessary for me to assure you that I am quite at 
your service, count," he began, " but I don't exactly see how I can be of 
any assistance to you. The undertaking you speak of is quite beyond my 
powers, and can only be accomplished with machinery of which I have no 
knowledge whatever, being no engineer." 

" You are a sailor," was M. de la Calprenede's quick reply. 

"That's true, and I even flatter myself that I am thoroughly acquainted 
with my profession, but I cannot understand how this knowledge would be 
of any service to you in working a submarine gold mine." 

" But I assure you that your assistance is indispensable to the execution 
of my plans, and I will explain why, although very briefly, for it is late, 
and Arlette must be tired," said the count, who was dividing his attention 
between his daughter and the drawing-room door. 

"Do you propose forming a company for the recovery of this treasure ? " 

" I had thought of doing so, but, on reflection, I decided it would not be 
advisable. In the first place, I should not care to be known as the con- 
ductor of an enterprise of this kind. I have lost a good deal of money in 
business enterprises, there is no denying that, but I don't wish to be accused 
of involving others in loss. Besides, the public generally wouldn't believe 
in the existence of those millions." 

"That's very true. In Paris, people are credulous and suspicious by 
turns. And since the failure of the scheme for the recovery of the galleons 
in the Bay of Vigo, such enterprises have not been regarded with much 
favour. " 

"I am quite of your opinion; besides, even if such a company were 
formed, I should only derive a very meagre profit from the secret I 
possess. I want all or nothing. If I share the profits, it will only be 
with a chosen friend who can help me ; in short, with yourself, my dear 
Jacques." 

"lam very grateful to you for having thought of me, but I really don't 
feel that I ought to accept such a princely gift," said Courtaumer, as 
seriously as he could. " Six millions would be very welcome if Iliad earned 
them, but unfortunately I have no means of acquiring them in any legitimate 
way." 

" On the contrary, you have all the requisites I lack. You know how to 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIll. 1C7 

manage a ship, and you possess ample capital to conduct the submarine 
explorations which will enrich us." 

"My capital has been greatly reduced. All the property I now own 
wouldn't yield more than two hundred and fifty thousand francs, and 
heaven only knows what the recovery of these chests of gold would 
cost ! " 

"Almost nothing. It is only necessary to hire for a month or two one of 
those small steam-tugs which can be found in any port, to hire or purchase 
divers' costumes, and engage a dozen men whom we shall only be obliged to 
pay while we are at work." 

41 What ! do you think it can be so easily accomplished as that ? I 
thought a great deal of time, money, and labour would be required." 

" You forget that the vessel was wrecked but a couple of years ago, so 
that no excavating will be necessary, especially as the bed of the ocean at 
that point is solid rock. I calculate that the expense will not exceed fifty 
thousand francs. It is true, however, that I have not that amount by 
me." 

" I have, although I am by no means rich, and I should be very glad to 
place the sum at your disposal. My time is also at your service, but — " 

"But what?" 

" I decline any share in the profits. Oh, don't protest, count; I will 
allow you to repay me the money advanced for expenses, and I shall be 
greatly the gainer. Remember that, judging from all appearances, baccarat 
will cost me a great deal more if I remain in Paris." 

" You are too generous, my dear Jacques — " 

"Wait, there is one condition, however." 

" I accept it in advance, whatever it may be." 

" Then, I am your man, providing you will allow me to reveal my stipula- 
tion only when success has been achieved. I will add, however, that it has 
no connection whatever with money. I shall ask a favour that you can 
grant without opening your purse." 

As he spoke, Jacques glanced at Mademoiselle de la Calprenede, who had 
closed her music-book, and who was evidently preparing to leave the piano. 
The count divined that the request was in some way connected with his 
daughter, and his face brightened up, for to marry Arlette to M. de Court- 
aumer was his most fondly cherished dream. " I take you at your word," 
he exclaimed, " and to seal the bargain, I will tell you my secret. The 
vessel was wrecked upon a rock situated — " 

" You shall tell me all this to-morrow, if yoji will allow me to call on you 
in the afternoon," interrupted the ex-lieutenant. " We are agreed, and 
your word is quite sufficient. What good would it do to refer now to some 
details which you cannot explain fully to me until our next interview ? 
Allow me now to rejoin my friend Doutrelaise, who must need me, I think, 
as that old simpleton Frangois summoned me first. I am anxious to know 
what is going on in the ante-room, to which Doutrelaise just repaired if I 
am not greatly mistaken." 

" Certainly," was the count's gracious response. " It is late, and I am 
going to take leave of your aunt, I shall expect a visit from you to-mor- 
row." 

" And I shall not disappoint you," replied Jacques, as he rose to steal out 
of the room. For Doutrelaise had not reappeared, and Jacques was saying 
to himself : " Matapan must certainly be at the bottom of all this." 



168 TIIK MATAPAN AFfAlIl. 



XIII. 

In the anteroom Jacques found Frangois who evinced unmistakeable signs of 
intense agitation. When questioned as to what had become of Doutrelaise, 
the old valet replied that he had left the house in company with a person 
who had called for him, and who on going away had said : " Ask Monsieur 
de Courtaumer to join meat Monsieur Doutrelaise's residence on the Boule- 
vard Haussmann, as soon as possible. I must see him without fail on a 
matter of great importance." 

Jacques subjected Frangois to a searching examination, but only succeeded 
in eliciting unsatisfactory replies. The man who called had given his name 
— a name which Frangois, in his excitement, had almost forgotten, for he 
murdered it so in repeating it that Jacques did not remember having ever 
heard it before, and yet this name had produced such an extraordinary 
effect on Doutrelaise, that he had immediately left the whist-table and gone 
off without even taking leave of anyone. " What did the man who called 
here look look like?" asked Jacques. 

"More like a bailiff than anything else. He was certainly not a gentle- 
man, and you will excuse me for indulging in such a supposition, sir, but if your 
friend was in debt, I should think the man had come to take him to Clichy." 

"You are behind the times, Frangois. Imprisonment for debt was abol- 
ished twenty years ago ; besides, Monsieur Doutrelaise owes no one. Give 
me my overcoat, hat, and cane." While Francois was assisting him in put- 
ting on his overcoat, Jacques added : " You must tell my aunt that Mon- 
sieur Doutrelaise was sent for in great haste by one of his friends who is 
very ill, and who also summoned me, for I suppose that such is the case ; 
and above all, avoid speaking of the absurd fancies you mentioned to me 
just now." 

With these words, Jacques hastened down the stairs and into the street. 
A cab was passing ; he stopped it, sprung in, and ordered the driver to take 
him to the Boulevard Haussmann with all possible speed. Still, the drive 
seemed a long one, and before he arrived, he had plenty of time to indulge 
in conjectures. " May I be hanged if I can guess what this abrupt depar- 
ture means ! " he muttered. " To rush off without saying a word to any- 
one, not even to Mademoiselle de la Calprenede, or to me ! It is enough to 
make one think the fellow mad. It was only with the greatest difficulty 
that I persuaded my aunt to invite him. He had this one opportunity to 
show himself at his best, and instead of profiting by it, he runs away. I 
am very much afraid that he has spoiled his prospects forever. But after 
all, it isn't his fault," resumed Courtaumer, following his train of thought. 
" It is evident that something important has occurred. But what ? A 
duel is not arranged in such a manner. A man doesn't come to challenge 
an adversary in a drawing-room where he is spending the evening ; he 
doesn't carry him off immediately as if his instant appearance on the ground 
were a necessity. Nor have men been known to fight a duel at eleven o'clock 
at night. And yet, I recollect that when Doutrelaise arrived he told me he 
had just had a violent altercation with Matapan. This is the result of it, 
perhaps. The old rascal never does anything like other people. He is 
quite capable of proposing single combat in his rooms, with daggers or 
even axes. Doutrelaise ought to have pooh-poohed any such proposition, 
but if he has been so foolish as to accept, I shall interfere, and between 
us we shall certainly make this eccentric somnambulist listen to reason.' 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 169 

The Boulevard Haussmann is not a short thoroughfare by any means ^ 
and the baron's house was situated near the further end ; moreover, the 
horse that was drawing Jacques to his destination was not a very spirited 
animal. Indeed, it took at least twenty-five minutes to cover the distance. 
Jacques fairly stamped with impatience, and when the vehicle at last stop- 
ped, he cleared the space between it and the doorway at a single bound. 

The door was instantly opened, and on crossing the threshold he found 
the hall has brilliantly lighted up as if a ball were going on in the house. 
This illumination was the more remarkable from the fact that the gas was 
usually extinguished at eleven o'clock in Baron Matapan's house. Yet 
another surprise awaited Courtaumer. Marchefroid, the doorkeeper, who 
was usually seated in his room, solemnly reading his radical paper — March- 
efroid, the majestic Marchefroid, was standing at his door in the attitude of 
a soldier on guard. 

" Monsieur Doutrelaise just came in, did he not ? " inquired Courtaumer. 

" Yes, sir, but he is not at home." 

This strange reply was made in a sulky tone which greatly displeased 
Courtaumer, who had no great affection for the baron's factotum. ' ' What 
do you mean by that ? " he asked angrily. " Are you mocking me ? " 

" Believe me, sir, I am incapable of such rudeness," replied Marchefroid, 
with ironical politeness. 

" I don't care for any of your excuses. Has Monsieur Doutrelaise re- 
turned, yes or no ? " 

"He came in about three quarters of an hour ago, and — not alone." 

" I know. Some one called for him. I am going up." 

" I have a bit of advice to give you, and that is, not to tire yourself by 
climbing to the fourth floor." 

"Will you have done with your stupid jests, you rascal! Where is 
Monsieur Doutrelaise ? " 

" In Baron Matapan's apartment ; but I am by no means certain that you 
can see him." 

" Is this intended as another joke ? Matapan won't have the audacity to 
keep him a prisoner, I suppose ; and if he tries to keep me from seeing him, 
he will have some trouble." 

" You know very well he would do nothing of the kind," was Marche- 
froid's answer. "Indeed, I think you will be admitted ; but to save you 
any possible trouble at the door, these gentlemen will accompany you." 

On hearing the words " these gentlemen," Courtaumer perceived two 
rather shabbily-dressed men, who had previously kept themselves in the 
background, advance from behind the doorkeeper. This strange apparition 
surprised him beyond measure. They did, indeed, strongly resemble 
huissiers, and if it were one of them who had come to summon Doutrelaise, 
no wonder that Francois had been incensed that such an individual should 
have ventured to present himself at Madame de Vervins' house. " There is 
no necessity for any one to accompany me, " said Courtaumer, turning his back 
upon the doorkeeper, " and when I come down again, I shall teach you not 
to be insolent, Master Marchefroid." He hastened towards the staircase, 
and he was already ascending it when he perceived that one of the two men 
was following him. This incident gave him food for reflection. What 
did these men want ? The only case iii which a house is guarded and its 
visitors watched is when a crime has been committed. "Can Matapan 
have killed some one ? " thought Courtaumer. " I shouldn't be sorry to 
hear it, for in that case the authorities would rid us of him." 



170 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

On reaching the door he rang, but not without considerable perturbation. 
The door opened, but no one appeared to receive him. The man who was 
following him was not far off. Courtaumer entered without honouring him 
with even a glance, and the door closed as it had opened — that is to say, 
as if by magic. Jacques had never previously set foot in the baron's apart- 
ments, and this strange way of opening and closing the doors did not 
astonish him so much, as the eccentric landlord might have provided his 
apartments with invisible machinery intended to take the place of servants. 
But this illusion only lasted for a moment ; for on turning round, Jacques 
found himself in the presence of an individual who seemed to belong to the 
same class as Marchef roid's body-guard. The young fellow was on the point 
of questioning this individual, when three cautious raps resounded at the 
door, and the man inside hastened to open it for the comrade who had 
followed Courtaumer upstairs. This comrade entered the apartment, and 
the door was then closed a second time. " Do you wish to see Monsieur 
Matapan ? " inquired the man who admitted Jacques. 

' ' No, " replied Courtaumer, ' ' I wish to speak with one of my friends who 
is here, at least so the doorkeeper informed me. I mean Monsieur Doutre- 
laise, who lives in the house ; I don't understand, however, why he is in 
Monsieur Matapan 's apartments." 

" You will soon be informed. What is your name ? " 

" That is no concern of yours. If Monsieur Doutrelaise is here, please 
go and call him. I wish to see him." 

" That is impossible just now ; he is engaged." 

"1 tell you he expects me." 

The man shrugged his shoulders, as if to say : " What does that matter 
tome?" 

"And who, pray, are you?" exclaimed Courtaumer. " Why do you 
presume to interfere ? Are you one of Baron Matapan's servants ? " 

" I ! a servant ? Oh, no," replied the man, laughing. 

" It is true you don't look like one. But let us put an end to this farce. 
Tell me whom I have to deal with." 

"Wait. My comrade will announce you, and perhaps you will be 
admitted. '' 

"Well, make way whoever you maybe! lam not at your Matapan's 
orders, and I shall not dance attendance in his ante-chamber. " Thereupon, 
before either of the men could prevent him, Courtaumer darted to a door 
opposite to him, flung it open, and cried : " Doutrelaise, are you here ? " 

The adjoining room was brilliantly lighted up, but it was empty. Cour- 
taumer entered without the slightest hesitation. The two men followed 
him, and one of them placed himself before him in such a way as to prevent 
him from advancing further. " You cannot pass ! " exclaimed the other. 

Courtaumer, in his anger, was about to resort to pugilism, when a person 
whom he instantly recognised entered the room, and the aspect of things 
suddenly changed. It was the commissary of police whom he had gone 
for a few days previously to convince him of the baron's somnambulism, 
and who had displayed so much sagacity throughout the affair. " What ! " 
exclaimed Jacques, "was it you, sir, who summoned my friend ? What 
has happened that your services should be required a second time ? Has 
Matapan done something criminal in one of his fits of somnambulism ? " 

"No, it is not that — unfortunately," replied the commissary. 

" Unfortunately, you say ! What worse thing can have happened? " 

Before replying, the commissary dismissed the men in waiting with a 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR 171 

gesture, and closed the door by which Courtaumer had entered. " They 
are detectives, I suppose," said Jacques. 

" Yes, but do not bo alarmed. I brought them only for form's sake — ■ 
because it is customary in such cases." 

" What do you meari ? Has any crime been committed here ? " 

"I hope not, but the situation is this: Monsieur Matapan has dis- 
appeared." 

"Disappeared? Since when? Doutrelaise told me only a short time 
ago that he had just had a violent altercation with the scoundrel. ' 

" Monsieur Doutrelaise has told me the same thing, and it is for this very 
reason that I have been obliged to attach importance to a letter which Mon- 
sieur Matapan's servant sent to the authorities." 

" A letter ! Who wrote it ? " 

" Monsieur Matapan. Here it is, pray read it," said the commissary, 
drawing a folded paper from his pocket. 

Courtaumer, more perplexed than ever, opened the letter, and read as 
follows : " I have the honour to inform the judicial authorities that my life 
has been threatened by Monsieur Doutrelaise, my tenant, on account of a 
dispute which has taken place between us respecting some recent events. 
He has challenged me to fight a duel without witnesses, in a house at 
Neuilly, on the banks of the Seine. He insists that this duel shall take 
place immediately, and I have consented, as he has grievously insulted me. 
I ain now ready to start for the scene of the conflict, but as I have reason 
to believe that Monsieur Doutrelaise intends to murder me, I have written 
to one of my friends, who will repair to the spot to act as an umpire. 
Still, as he may not arrive in time, I have ordered Ali, my faithful servant, 
to deliver this letter at the office of the public prosecutor, in case I have 
not returned to my residence on the Boulevard Haussmann by nine o'clock 
this evening. And in that case, I ask that a search may be immediately 
made at my villa on the Boulevard d'Argenson. Ali, my servant, knows 
where it is, and has the keys. I should have applied to the police to pro- 
tect me against this furious lunatic who is resolved to have my life, but 
there are insults which a brave man cannot tolerate, and which he feels 
obliged to avenge. I shall perhaps fall in a combat which has become in- 
evitable. If such should be my fate, I am anxious that the facts which 
preceded the duel should be known, and that the crime, if crime there be, 
should not go unpunished." 

That was all. Courtaumer returned the letter to the commissary, and 
shrugging his shoulders said : "This effusion lacks common sense. Whom 
does Matapan hope to convince that Doutrelaise has lured him into a trap 
in order to kill him ? 

" I do not believe it for one," replied the commissary, " and shall not do 
so until I have positive proof of it. Nevertheless, this evening I received 
orders to investigate the matter without loss of time. 1 was selected for 
this duty as I had charge of the other affair in which Monsieur Matapan 
was concerned. My superiors thought there might be some connection be- 
tween the two, and I accepted the task with pleasure, in the hope of en- 
abling your friend to prove that he is entirely free from blame." 

" But Matapan's story is absurd. In what times do we live that a mag- 
istrate should pay any serious attention to such nonsense ! " 

" Every charge must be investigated, at least to a certain extent ; I be 
gan by warning Monsieur Doutrelaise, who I learnt was spending the even- 
ing at the house of Madame de Vervins', I hastened there at once, and 



172 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

asked to see Monsieur Doutrelaise, who was perfectly willing to accompany 
me here in order to contradict certain assertions made by Monsieur Mata- 
pan's servant. They are now together, and, to show you how much I am 
inclined to be your friend, I don't object to your being present at this con- 
frontation. " 

" Confrontation ! " exclaimed Courtaumer, " and detectives everywhere ! 
I find two in the door-keeper's room and one here. It seems to me, sir, 
that my friend is treated like a prisoner." 

" You are mistaken, sir," replied the commissary, " I must have mem- 
bers of the police force at hand, as I am compelled to search the house at 
Neuilly." 

" What ! you attach any importance to this absurd story of a duel with- 
out witnesses — and you are going to Neuilly to see if you can find Matapan's 
corpse there ? " 

" May be some other commissary has been deputized to visit the villa on 
the Boulevard d'Argenson while I am investigating the case here, for 
prompt action was insisted upon. In that case I shall be informed of the 
result of the search at Neuilly this evening, for I explained to my superiors 
the manner in which I proposed to proceed, beginning by questioning 
Monsieur Doutrelaise and Baron Matapan's valet." 

"Then begin at once, for Doutrelaise won't feel very much flattered at 
being left t6te-d-tete with a lackey ; and since you will kindly permit me to 
be present at the examination, I am entirely at your service. Make use of 
me in any way. If you need any errands done, call on me ; I will act as 
your messenger." 

" Heaven preserve me from profiting by your obliging offer," replied the 
magistrate, laughing. " People would not fail to say that I was taking 
your friend's part ; and I have already been censured for disobeying rules, 
in the first affair." 

" That is rather hard — for I don't know how we should have proved the 
absurdity of the accusation against Julien de la Calprenede, if you had not 
assisted us in proving that Matapan was a somnambulist." 

"You are right, my dear sir; a thousand times right; but in judicial 
matters there is a certain amount of routine — " 

"Which is contrary to common sense. That is true, and I bow before 
this stupid divinity." 

" Oh, there is a way of managing matters. I can assume the responsi- 
bility of certain proceedings without failing in my duty; and I have always 
felt such unbounded respect and esteem for your brother that I was willing 
even to compromise myself a little, if necessary, to prevent your friend 
from being treated unjustly. However, Monsieur Doutrelaise knows that 
you are here. He recognised your voice, and must be awaiting my return 
with mpatience. Don't let us keep him waiting any longer." And with 
these words the commissary opened the door of the baron's smoking-room 
— the apartment where he had entertained Giromon, and where they had 
compared their reminiscences of the past and laid their plans for the future. 

Courtaumer was rather amazed on beholding the soft cushions heaped 
upon the divans ; the Turkish pipes and nargheels, the small low tables, 
inlaid with mother-of-pearl ; the richly ornamented lamps hanging from the 
ceiling, all of which forcibly reminded him of the abodes he had visited at 
Constantinople and Cairo. The room seemed to have been very recently 
occupied. The lamps were lighted, the decanters but half empty, and 
there was a strong scent of resin, incense, and Oriental tobacco. One would 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 173 

have sworn that the owner had just stepped out. Doutrelaise, in evening 
dress, and Ali, in a red and gold livery, looked strange indeed amid these 
surroundings. They were both standing, Doutrelaise near a window, and 
Ali near the door opening into the passage, and the glances they exchanged 
were not of a friendly character by any means, " Here you are at last ! " 
Doutrelaise exclaimed on perceiving Jacques. "I was sure you would 
come, but I hoped you would come sooner." 

"I came as quickly as I could," replied Courtaumer. " I realised that 
something of importance must have occurred, and that you would no doubt 
need me, but I could not leave Monsieur de la Calprenede too abruptly, 
Well, it seems that Matapan has been trying to get even with you by pre- 
tending that you have laid a plot to assassinate him." 

"When you arrived, Monsieur de Courtaumer," said the commissary, " k I 
was just going to ask Monsieur Doutrelaise to tell me what passed between 
him and the baron yesterday. I waited until he was in the presence of the 
baron's servant before questioning him, because this servant asserts certain 
things which will perhaps be contradicted by your friend's testimony," 

" My story will be brief and simple," said Doutrelaise. "To my very 
great astonishment, Monsieur Matapan called upon me at about four o'clock 
this afternoon. I ordered my servant to admit him, and I asked him what 
he wanted, whereupon he began to abuse me in the most outrageous manner 
for the part I took in that affair the other night. I answered him as he 
deserved to be answered, and ordered him to leave the room at once. 
Thereupon, his language became so insulting that I lost my temper. If he 
had confined himself to insulting me, I should perhaps have succeeded in 
preserving my self-control, but he spoke of another person in such terms 
that I lost all patience. You probably won't compel me to repeat what he 
said, or give the name of the person he insulted." 

"That is unnecessary," replied the commissary. "I understand what 
you mean, for I was present the other night when Monsieur Matapan in- 
dulged in a base insinuation. Pray continue. " 

"Acting upon the impulse of the moment, an impulse to which I now 
regret having yielded, I raised my hand to strike him but he hastily 
stepped aside, and my fingers only grazed his cheek. I thought he would 
rush upon me, and I hastily caught up a revolver which happened to be 
lying within my reach : but Monsieur Matapan did not attempt to employ 
his superior physical strength. " 

" He was afraid of receiving a bullet." 

" I don't know whether he was afraid, but I was greatly surprised by his 
conduct. He did not move, but he said to me with extraordinary coolness : 
' You owe me satisfaction, and I demand it instantly.' It is probable that 
he came on purpose to insult me, and that he was only waiting for a 
gesture from me to propose a duel." 

' ' Then you assert that the challenge came from him? " asked the commissary. 

" I swear it, though he asserts the contrary in the absurd production you 
showed me. This all happened quite naturally, as you see. I owed him sat- 
isfaction, and I asked nothing better than to grant it. I replied that his 
seconds might confer to-morrow morning with Monsieur Jacques de Court- 
aumer, who would serve as one of mine." 
" With pleasure," muttered Jacques. 

" It was then that Monsieur Matapan made the extraordinary suggestion 
that we should fight this evening in a country house which he owns, it seems, 
on the Boulevard d' Argenson, at Neuilly. He declared that he would 



174 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

never sleep with a blow unavenged, and uttered many other similar absurd- 
ities. I replied that such encounters did not take place at night, and that 
I was not inclined to take a trip to Neuilly to please him. He insisted, 
whereupon I laughed in his face, and finally he went away, informing me 
that he should await me at his villa — he took care to give me the full ad- 
dress — where I should find him at eight o'clock with his seconds, adding that 
if I did not make my appearance by that hour he should consider me a cow- 
ard, and would proclaim abroad that I had shrunk from an encounter 
with him." 

"Your explanation contradicts the baron's letter from beginning to end," 
said the commissary. "Will you have the kindness to tell me what you 
did after sending Monsieur Matapan away ? " 

" Monsieur Matapan left me at about a quarter past four," replied Doutre- 
Iaise. " Our interview did not last ten minutes. I was greatly perplexed, 
and felt anxious to consult a friend, so I dressed myself as quickly as possi- 
ble, and went in search of Monsieur Jacques de Courtaumer. I had been 
invited to spend the evening at his aunt's, but I wished to see him some- 
where else than in Madame de Vervins' drawing-room. I went to his own 
rooms in the Rue de Castiglione but he was not there. Thence I went to 
the club, where I was equally unsuccessful. Quite at a loss, I then decided to 
go and dine at the Cafe" Anglais where I found a gentleman with whom my 
friend Jacques is well acquainted — Cordier, our old college chum." 

" I thought he was living in the United States," said Courtaumer. 

"He has been residing in San Francisco for five years or more, and has 
made a large fortune there. He is now returning to America, after spend- 
ing a fortnight in Paris, to attend to some business matters. He sails from 
Havre this morning. He embraced me, and declared that 1 must dine with 
him, and indeed I had nothing better to do, as I could not find you. At half- 
past eight we finished our dinner, and I thought myself free, but he literally 
forced me to accompany him to the hotel to fetch his trunk as he meant to 
leave by the nine forty-five train. It was then too early to go to Madame 
de Vervins, and he was going to the Hotel du Louvre — which was on my 
way — so I allowed myself to be persuaded." 

" I would wager a handsome amount that you also accompanied him to 
the station," said Jacques. 

" I was foolish enough to do so." 

" I knew it. You would lose your fortune to oblige a friend." 

" I have, perhaps, lost something even more precious than that this 
evening," murmured Doutrelaise. 

" So you are in a position to prove that your evening has been spent in 
the manner you have described?" inquired the commissary, who had 
listened to this narrative with close attention. 

"Yes; at least up to half past eight o'clock. The head -waiter, who 
served us at the Cafe' Anglais, knows me very well, and will remember 
having seen me. On leaving there we took a cab. I did not enter the 
Hotel du Louvre, but waited in the vehicle for Cordier. At the Saint 
Lazare railway station, where we arrived much too early, I promenaded up 
and down the waiting-room with him. He had my arm, and did not leave 
me until the passengers were summoned to the train. And even then," 
added Doutrelaise, turning to Courtaumer, "he ran after me to tell me to 
give his regards to you, and to ask you to excuse him for not having called 
on you during his stay in Paris. He was not aware that you were here." 

" I can readily excuse him," replied Jacques ; "but really you did very 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 175 

wrong to allow him to monopolize you to such an extent. I know, of course, 
that you could not foresee Monsieur Matapan's nefarious scheme, but it 
would have been much better for you to have bestowed your attention on 
more than one person — " 

"At what hour will Monsieur Cordier sail?" inquired the commissary. 
" Would there be time for your friend to receive a telegram, sent in the morn- 
ing ? " 

" Undoubtedly ; only I forgot to ask him where he intended stopping." 

"That doesn't mattter. He will be found if I telegraph to one of my 
Havre colleagues," said the commissary. 

This remark made Courtaumer start. " Ah !" he exclaimed. " You in- 
tend then, to continue the investigation of this absurd affair, as you con- 
sider it necessary to have the testimony of this Californian, who unfortun- 
ately happened to engross my friend's time and attention this evening." 

" I am obliged to be prepared for any emergency," replied the commissary, 
rather coldly ; " besides if I receive an order, I am obliged to execute it." 

" It will be difficult to find a judge sufficiently stupid to believe that 
Doutrelaise has made away with Matapan. Besides, if this old scoundrel 
has been killed, his carcass will be found somewhere ; however I am certain 
that the rascal is enjoying the best possible health at this very moment." 

Courtaumer was certainly no diplomatist, and his language was not very 
well calculated to please the commissary ; however the latter took no notice 
of Jacques impetuous remarks but turned to Doutrelaise and said, "You 
will permit me to give Monsieur Matapan's servant a hearing now." 

All had not moved a muscle while Doutrelaise was telling his story, but 
had stood with his head erect, his arms folded, and a mocking smile upon 
his lips. " What have you to say? " inquired the magistrate. 

" I must first tell you what my master was thinking for three days past,' 
rejoined the servant in broken language. "He believes that Monsieur 
Doutrelaise was plotting against him to avenge a remark he had made. He 
said to me a dozen times or more : ' If anything happens to me, it will cer- 
tainly be that gentleman's fault. ' " 

"You need not repeat the conversation; simply state the facts if you 
please. What occurred yesterday ? " 

" Yesterday at about four o'clock in the afternoon, the baron told me he 
was going up to the fourth floor to see this gentleman, who had sent for 
him." 

"That is a gross falsehood." interrupted Doutrelaise. "I had not ad- 
dressed a word, either spoken or written, to Monsieur Matapan since the 
scene the other night. Besides, is it at all likely that Monsieur Matapan 
would have accepted such an invitation from me. whom he regarded as an 
enemy ? Even if I had conceived the ridiculous idea of asking him to come 
up stairs, he would probably have answered by requesting me to come down. " 

" Of course," exclaimed Courtaumer. 

" Go on," said the magistrate, addressing the valet who had not seemed 
to notice Doutrelaise's response. 

" The baron returned in about twenty minutes' time and seemed greatly 
agitated. He said to me : " I have just been insulted, and I am to fight 
this evening at Neuilly. I am going out now, because I must find a second. 
I don't wish to meet Monsieur Doutrelaise without witnesses* He sugges- 
ted such an arrangemeut to me, but I have no confidence in his integrity, 
and I fear he is setting a trap for me. ' " 

" That is exactly what he would have done for you, my dear fellow, had 



176 THE MATAPAN APFAIB. 

you been green enough to consent to the arrangement he proposed," growled 
Courtaumer._ 

"After telling me this, the baron wrote a letter, dressed himself entirely 
in black, put on a low felt hat— and afterwards ordered me to place his 
swords in a cab which he had sent me to fetch. Before he went away, he 
gave me the letter he had written, ordering me to take it to the Palais de 
Justice at nine o'clock precisely — in case he had not returned at that 
hour. " 

" And you have not seen hnr since ? " 

" Alas, no, sir, and I am suie he is dead, for never before, since I have 
been in his employment, has he spent a single night out of his own bed." 

' ' Why, he wandered around all night, and was everywhere excepting in 
his bed ? " cried Courtaumer, sneeringly. 

" I am not speaking to you," replied Ali, unabashed. 

" How happens it that you did not accompany your master to Neuilly ? " 
inquired the commissary gravely. "You seem to be greatly attached to 
him, and you knew that he might incur great danger." 

" I begged and entreated him to allow me to go with him, but he for- 
bade my doing so, and I could only obey him. Besides, I knew he would 
trust no one else to deliver the letter he had written." 

" It was your duty to have warned the commissary of the district. But 
you can at least tell me the name of the person who served as Monsieur 
Matapan's second ? " 

" Unfortunately 1 don't know it. The baron was not in the habit of 
talking to me about his affairs. " 

" But you knew his friends." 

" No, sir, for they never came here ? ' 

At this moment one of the detectives guarding the door entered the room 
and whispered a few words to the magistrate. " Gentlemen," said the 
commissary, as the man turned on his heels, " my colleague, who has just 
returned from Neuilly, is downstairs. I am about to hear the result of the 
expedition to Monsieur Matapan's villa. Please wait for me here." With 
these words the magistrate hastened from the room, leaving the two friends 
alone with Ali, who ostentatiously turned his back upon them as he re- 
treated to his chosen position near the door leading into the corridor. They 
felt no inclination to enter in a conversation with him, and by common 
consent they retired to the embrasure of a window. 

" Can you imagine what motive induced Matapan to concoct this absurd 
conspiracy ? " asked Doutrelaise. 

"He wanted to get you into trouble, of course," replied Jacques. 

" It cannot possibly have any serious result. No one will believe that I 
have murdered him." 

"The judges will not, but how about the public? A slander is never 
lost. People will whisper to each other what he loudly proclaimed, that 
you hated him because he had discovered you hiding in Monsieur de la 
Calprenede's apartments, and that you killed him to prevent him from 
divulging the fact." 

" But what could have been his object ? " 

"In the first place, he wasn't sorry to cause you annoyance, and in this, 
he has succeeded, admirably. An investigation has begun, and the police 
are at work. The house is full of them. There were two in the door- 
keeper's room when I arrived. Marehefroid is jubilant, and to-morrow all 
the Bourleroys will share hia delight. You will have everybody against you, 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 177 

even Monsieur de la Calprenede, who will be furious when he hears of this 
scandal." 

" Ami his son as well," remarked Doutrelaise, sadly. " Julien is highly 
incensed with me, and he will leave prison to-morrow." 

" I will have a talk with him. Besides, there is Mademoiselle Arlette. 
You ask me -what Matapan's object could be : to prevent you from marry- 
ing her, my dear fellow. His suit has been rejected ; he cannot have her 
himself, and he doesn't want anybody else to succeed ; and so he has laid 
this plot to lower you in the estimation of the father and the daughter as 
well." 

" That is probable, and I am afraid he will succeed. But for this charge 
to be taken seriously, it would be necessary for Matapan to remain 
invisible." 

" Well, I shouldn't be at all surprised if the old scoundrel had planned 
a permanent disappearance. He recently met a rascal who scoured the 
seas with him in former years, and they have perhaps made up their minds 
to resume their former vocation." 

" That's hardly likely. Matapan is the owner of this house." 

" But there is nothing to prevent him from turning it over to an agent, 
and receiving the rent, even if he were in China." 

" And the money and valuables concealed here, do you believe him 
capable of relinquishing them ? " 

' ' The question is, whether he has not removed them within the last few 
days ? Monsinur de la Calprenede told me yesterday that the baron had 
taken away all the articles secreted in the wall of Julien's study, and I have 
learned through my brother that the rascal has claimed the famous opal 
necklace, and that it has been returned to him." 

" Quite so ; I myself returned him the fragment which was in my 
possession." 

"Ah, well, my dear friend, his eagerness to obtain possession of his 
treasures shows that he meant to abscond." 

At this moment the commissary of police returned. " Of course nothing 
has been found ? " exclaimed the ex-lieutenant, unceremoniously. 

"You are mistaken, sir," replied the magistrate, coldly. " On the con- 
trary, there are abundant proofs of Monsieur Matapan's visit to his Neuilly 
villa. The lower floor was still lighted up, and two swords were found 
lying on the floor of the dining-room, which was stained with blood." 

"I knew it ! My poor master is dead !" groaned Ali, with frantic 
gesticulations of grief. 

" Bah ! his nose has bled, that's all. I am very sure no corpse was found 
on the scene of the pretended conflict." 

"No," replied the commissary, "but footsteps were observed in the 
garden — footsteps that led to a small gate near the river bank. The house 
is very near the Seine." 

"That's capital!" exclaimed Courtaumer, laughing heartily. "My 
friend Doutrelaise, after killing the unfortunate Matapan, took his body 
upon his shoulders and threw it into the Seine. Doutrelaise is very strong, 
and very adroit as well ; but he is in evening dress, with a black coat and 
a white cravat, and after all this exertion he still looks as if he had just 
stepped out of a bandbox. There isn't a crease in his clothing, or a speck 
of mud on his polished boots." 

" Gentlemen," rejoined the commissary, " I have requested my colleague 
to make his report, and to allow me to complete the investigation. I shall 



178 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

do so to-morrow, but there is nothing more to be done here now. TVill you 
follow me ? " 

" Don't you think, sir, that it would be as well to ascertain what the baron 
has done with the valuables he kept concealed in this wall T " inquired 
Courtaumer. " Perhaps his faithful servant can give us some information 
on the subject." 

" If you refer to the cupboard in which the baron sometimes deposited 
his valuables for safe keeping," said Ali, " I can show the commissary that 
it is empty. Two or three days ago my master came to the conclusion that 
his valuables were no longer safe here, and so he deposited them at some 
bank." 

" Or elsewhere," muttered Jacques. 

" Very well," said the magistrate^-addressing the valet. " You will be 
examined to-morrow. I should advilft you not to leave the house until you 
receive your summons. Come, gentlemen," he added, passing into the next 
room. 

Ali did not reply or move ; and the commissary, finding himself alone 
with the two friends, remarked, after careful consideration : " I fetl certain 
that all this is the result of a scheme concocted by Monsieur Matapan to 
njure Monsieur Doutrelaise. The deception is apparent, and will soon be 
revealed beyond all doubt ; but it is my duty to investigate the facts, and 
I advise you to be prudent until the mystery is cleared up. Abstain from 
iany action whatever, and don't answer if any one questions you. Wait 
until I have seen my superiors, and have acquainted them with certain in- 
formation which I have collected respecting Monsieur Matapan. I don't 
believe that he is dead — in fact, I am sure he will reappear, if only to claim 
his valuables." 

" I see that Doutrelaise's case is in good hands," exclaimed Courtaumer, 
in delight. " You have no further need of us, I presume, sir ? " 

" No, gentlemen, I am going away, and will detain you no longer." 

When Doutrelaise found himself again upon the staircase with Cour- 
taumer, the latter gaily said : " Let us go up to your rooms. I want to 
have a talk with you. Everything promises well." 

" On the contrary, after what has just occurred, I have nothing to hope 
for," murmured Doutrelaise. 

" Bah ! " exclaimed Courtaumer ; " all roads lead to Rome, and Mata- 
pan's abominable conspiracies may perhaps bring about your marriage with 
Mademoiselle de la Calprenede. I am almost certain that you will have 
cause to be grateful to this scamp, sooner or later on. Everything will turn 
out for the best." 

" I greatly fear that you are mistaken," replied Doutrelaise. " There is 
no hope of keeping the affair a secret. The hall is still lighted up, and I 
can hear Marchefroid talking. He is evidently waiting to see me pass his 
door, in the custody of two policemen. Nor should I be surprised if he had 
informed all the inmates of the house, and invited them to witness the de- 
lightful spectacle. When Julien was arrested, it was done much more 
quietly. I have been treated far worse than he was." 

" With this difference, however : Julien was taken to prison, where he 
still remains ; while you are quietly returning to your rooms, where you 
must give me shelter for the night. " 

" Very gladly, although I have only a sofa to offer you." 

" I shall be much more comfortable there than in the cabin of the ' Juno,' 
where I slept for three long years ; besides, I have no desire to pass out 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 179 

under the malicious scrutiny of the doorkeeper and the detectives who are 
keeping him company. I am very much excited, and if he dropped any 
word that didn't suit me, I might fly at his throat, and get myself locked 
up. I shouldn't much mind about it ; but although Adrien, thank Heaven 1 
is no longer a magistrate, I owe him some consideration, and he wouldn't 
be much pleased to learn that his brother had been arrested for a breach of 
the peace. " 

" You are right ; but the question is, whether you will be any calmer 
to-morrow morning." 

" Yes, yes. Night brings counsel, you know. Let us go upstairs." 

Doutrelaise at once assented, for he was in one of those moods in which 
a man experiences an intense desire to confide his troubles to a friend, re- 
ceive his consolation, and listen to his advice. So they both wended their 
way to the fourth floor. On passing M. de la Calprenede's door, they found 
it closed. The count and his daughter must have already returned, and 
Doutrelaise reflected that they must have passed under a running fire of 
sneers, and perhaps gibes, from the rascally doorkeeper. On the third floor, 
where the Bourleroys resided, everybody was astir. Through the partially 
opened door the sound of voices was distinctly audible, and plainly enough 
Marchefroid had informed the family of what had occurred. They knew 
that the police were in the house, and that an unpopular neighbour would 
probably depart in custody. As Courtaumer passed by, he perceived Bour- 
leroy senior, peering on to the landing. "Draw in your head, you old 
rascal!" exclaimed the ex-lieutenant. "If your wife saw you in that 
posture, she would think you were watching for your adored Lelia, Mar- 
chef roid's clumsy daughter." Bourleroy, detected in the act of playing the 
spy, quickly withdrew his head, and noiselessly closed the door. "Did 
you see him vanish ? " inquired Jacques, as he and Doutrelaise reached the 
landing on the fourth floor. " The other night we killed two birds with one 
stone, when we discovered Matapan's somnambulistic propensities and our 
licentious old neighbour's escapades. I think we have nothing more to fear 
from the Bourleroys. If they show any inclination to criticise my friends, 
I have a very effectual means of closing their mouths." 

But Doutrelaise was not in the mood for jesting. Without a word, he 
ushered his companion into the smoking room, where a good fire was burn- 
ing, and where everything necessary for a bachelor's evening enjoyment was 
as usual in readiness. " They are all asleep in the count's apartments," 
remarked Jacques, approaching the window. " No, there is still a light 
in the last room, a very faint light, very like that kindled by a young girl 
whose heart is oppressed with grief, and who cannot sleep. But, never 
mind, my dear fellow, in two or three months the whole mansion will be 
illuminated, and there will be feasting and dancing in honour of your nup- 
tials with the most charming lady of my acquaintance." 

" You are mad ! " exclaimed Doutrelaise. 

"Not at all. Listen to me. You fancy that all is lost, that the father 
is your bitterest enemy, that the son is in league with him, and that their 
opposition will destroy the love that fills Mademoiselle Arlette's heart. 
You forget, my friend, that you have an ally in me. - ' 

" I know it ; but what can you do against so many enemies ? " 

" I can do a great deal, for I am in their camp— at least, I have been so 
for two or three hours. You saw me conversing with the count at my 
aunt's house, and probably thought I was wasting my time. Not at all. 
No allusion was made to you, but the count made a proposition to me — a 



ISO THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

proposition to which I shall give a formal assent to-morrow, when the con- 
tract or agreement will be signed. The fact is, he wishes ire to recover 
twelve millions that belong to him, or to which he has purchased the sole 
right and title, for they are now resting under several fathoms of water. 
I shall not try to convince you that I am the only person in the world 
capable of accomplishing this extremely lucrative and difficult task ; I will 
only say that I have decided to undertake it, and that if I succeed in it, 
I shall be in a position to impose any conditions whatever upon Monsieur 
de la Calprenede. It will cost me a good deal of trouble and not a little 
money, for I shall not only command the expedition, but advance the 
funds ; still, I sha'n't regret the money and labour expended if I can con- 
duct the affair to a successful termination, for you will be the one to reap 
the benefits of the victory." 

" Your language is becoming less and less intelligible." 

" No matter. Content yourself with answering the ques'oious I am going 
to put to you. In the first place, what course do you intend to pursue 
under the peculiar circumstances which have resulted from Matapan's ac- 
cusation ? " 

"I shall wait until he reappears, and then treat him as he deserves. 
He asked for a duel ; he shall have it. " 

" I will serve as your second with pleasure, but that was not what I 
meant. I was wondering what course of conduct you would pursue in re- 
gard to the Calprenedes." 

"I can only keep myself out of their way, and I don't suppose they 
will court my society." 

"You are probably right, and I greatly doubt if my aunt will feel at all 
inclined to continue her attempts at a reconciliation. Heaven only knows 
what slanders she has heard about you already ! As for Mademoiselle 
Arlette, she will certainly not allow herself to be influenced by these 
calumnies. She possesses great firmness, as well as constancy. She has 
proved this, since her attachment to you has successfully resisted the oppo- 
sition of those around her. So you have nothing to fear on that side." 

" What are you aiming at ? " 

" I wish to know if Paris has any great attraction for you, at the present 
time?" 

"Fo ; my life here was never particularly pleasant, and it has now be- 
come intolerable." 

" Especially now that you may expect to be a trifle annoyed by the 
judicial authorities, for you will be examined again. Your past will be 
subjected to a minute investigation to ascertain if you were not guilty of 
some act of folly in your youth. I shouldn't be surprised if you were even 
placed under surveillance for a time." 

" That is quite possible, and I would travel a thousand leagues to escape 
from such annoyances." 

"It is not necessary to go so far. You have only to accompany me on 
board a fine steamer that I am going to hire — and which I shall command. 
It will take us to the coast of Brittany — Come, is it agreed ? What is there 
to prevent your coming with me ? Perhaps you are afraid that Madem- 
oiselle de la Calprenfede will be offended by your abrupt departure, and it 
would be impossible for you to bid her good-bye. But I will faithfully 
deliver any message you may desire to send to her, and when she learns 
the object "of our expedition, she will approve of your decision. I can vouch 
for that." 



THE MAIAPAN AFFAIR lSl 

" All my hopes have fled," replied Doutrelaise, sadly. " I can now only 
rely upon your friendship. Paris has become hateful to me ; life is only 
a burden. I will go wherever you wish to go." 

"Very good!" exclaimed Courtaumer. "To-morrow I will see the 
count, and I shall be able to decide whether the scheme to which I have 
vaguely alluded is a practicable one. I begin to hope that it is. I did 
not think so at first, but my faith increases with reflection. Don't ask me 
for the particulars until to-morrow evening, when we will dine together 
and come to a final decision. In the meantime, give me one of your 
Partagas, and enough rum to make myself a glass of punch — some of 
that which I brought you from Jamaica, if you have any of it left." 



XIV- 

" Doesn't this little boat move along finely ? " said Jacques de Courtau 
mer to Albert Doutrelaise one pleasant January day, that is if any January 
day can be called pleasant on the coast of Brittany. 

" So finely that we are bobbing about like so many dancing dervishes," 
murmured Albert, clinging with both hands to the railing of the bridge to 
which Jacques had compelled him to climb. 

" Bah ! you aren't sea sick, so you have no cause to complain : and, at 
our present rate of speed, we shall reach our destination in an hour. 
Then, you can land if you like, but I shall sleep on board, for I wish to 
superintend the first attempts. I know that you don't believe in our 
strange gold mine, but I do ; and even if I am mistaken, we shall have had 
a delightful excursion." 

"Do you think so? I can't say that I agree with you. It is three 
weeks since we left Paris one disagreeable evening by the express for 
Brest, where my only amusement consisted in promenading the public 
square and admiring the bay while I smoked innumerable cigars." 

" And thought about Mademoiselle de la Calprenede. I would bet 
any amount that you saw her profile in each passing cloud. Come, 
you are not to be pitied after all. You would have been much worse off 
in Paris. Monsieur de la Calprenede isn't very kindly disposed towards 
you, or his son either. The day Julien left prison I had great difficulty 
in preventing him from picking a quarrel with you. And now instead of 
quarrelling, you are hastening the date of your marriage." 

" You have repeated that remark at least a hundred times already, and 
when I ask you to explain yourself more clearly you only answer me 
evasively, so I cherish no foolish hopes. I accompanied you because I 
had nothing better to do, and because I felt that mine was a hopeless case." 

"Not hopeless, by any means, my dear fellow. If Mademoiselle de la 
Calprenede could hear you she would tell you that you were sadly wanting 
in faith, and she would be right. Have you forgotten a certain interview 
she was kind enough to grant you on the evening before your departure, 
in the little square in front of the Church of Saint- Augustin ? It seems 
to me that she urged you to accompany me, and swore that she would 
never change. 

" Everything is subject to change, my friend," said Albert, sadly. 

" It is her father's mind that will change — should we succeed." 

" You say ' we,' as if I was likely to be of any use in this foolish under- 
taking. 



182 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

"Don't trouble yourself about that. I will utilize your services, never 
fear." 

" Still, I should like to know what I am to do ? " 

" You will know soon. Don't forget how wonderfully fortune has 
favoured us so far. We reached Brest without the slightest accident. I 
had been told that I could hire a steamer there, but I was by no means 
certain of it. The first thing my eyes fell upon was this steam yacht, 
which a Russian had left there last year, and which answered my purpose 
admirably. It is fitted up in the most luxurious manner ; it skims over the 
waves like a sea-gull, and draws so little water that it can go anywhere. 
I hired it for a nothing, and if I decided to purchase it I could get it for a 
mere trifle. And to think that we owe this treasure to a golden-haired 
woman, who ruined the aforesaid Muscovite ! She little knew how greatly 
she was contributing to the happiness of an excellent young man and a 
charming young girl.'' 

"Jacques, you irritate me beyond endurance with your promises." 
" Promises which will be kept ; I'm sure of it. I have been receiving 
information ever since I have been in the neighbourhood, and I know be- 
yond the shadow of a doubt, that a large vessel was wrecked not far from 
here about two years ago. The American sailor told the truth. We now 
have the consent of the French authorities, the English insurance companies 
cannot oppose us, and as I have engaged the best divers to be found in Brest, 
and taken lessons myself so that I can easily move about with twentyfathoms 
of water above my head, there is nothing to prevent our commencing opera- 
tions. You must help me in regilding the Calprenede escutcheon ; I want 
the count to be under obligations to you. " 
" But he doesn't even know I am here." 

" No, as I prevailed on him to remain in Paris. It is supposed that you 
have gone to the south for your health. The commissary of police and my 
aunt alone are acquainted with the truth. By-the-way, did I tell you that 
a search is still being made for Baron Matapan, who is believed to have 
left France, and that my aunt has discovered that the famous opal 
necklace formerly belonged to an Indian rajah, whom Matapan killed in 
the Straits of Malacca ? It seems that the worthy baron was once a pirate. 
He has probably taken up his abode in some distant land, that is, unless 
he has resumed his former profession, in which case we may reasonably hope 
he will some day be hanged. But, however that may be, we shall soon 
hear that his house is for sale." 

The sky was cloudy, a stiff breeze was blowing, the shore was hidden 
from sight by a dense fog, and on every side innumerable rocks rose up grim 
and black above the foam-crested waves. It was, indeed, the immense and 
gloomy Atlantic, nowhere so stern and awe-inspiring as here on the rock 
bound coast of Brittany. 

" Now, my friend," said Courtaumer, " let me explain matters, and ac- 
quaint you with my purpose. Having left the Brest roads and taken a 
northern course we have rounded Cape Saint- Mathieu, leaving on our 
larboard the Black Rocks, Beniguet, Molene, and Ouessant, and other 
dangerous points. It would be difficult to give you any idea of the number 
of vessels wrecked on this coast. One of my best comrades sleeps here. 
He was on board the • Gorgon, ' which went to pieces off the Black Rocks. 
Not a man on board escaped, and no one can exactly tell where the ship 
went down. After that are you surprised that an American vessel, loaded 
with gold, should be lost ? " 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 183 

" But not hereabouts, since we are still moving onward." 

" Rather more northwards, my dear fellow, but not so far. The channel 
we have followed is called Le Four, which war vessels only venture into in 
the fairest weather. We have not only passed Cape Saint-Mathieu, but 
also Capes Kermorvan and Corsen. We have also passed Porspoder, a 
pretty seaport town, where gigantic lobsters cost but ten sous a piece, and 
the Isle of Yock, and other crags with equally heathenish names. There 
before is the Green Island, and that one with a stern forbidding aspect is 
called Bosseven. The channel between them is known as Relec Channel." 

"I don't derive much satisfaction from these particulars." 

"But in less than a week you will be as familiar with all these islands 
as you are with the Boulevard Haussmann, for it is in this immediate 
neighbourhood that we are going to establish ourselves." 

" What a delightful prospect ! We shall need all our philosophy. You 
can fish for gold while I fish for crabs. " 

" No jesting, if you please. Remember we did not come for pleasure, 
and our aim ought to be to succeed as quickly as possible. I will now ex- 
plain my plan. We shall reach our destination in about half an hour, and 
that will be none too soon, for night is coming on, and I have no desire to 
steam among these rocks after dark. We shall anchor between Green 
Island, which I pointed out to you just now, and the Isle of Greem, on the 
left. There is a very good anchorage there, where our yacht will be per- 
fectly safe, even in bad weather. Of course we shall remain on board. 
Now according to the information given to Monsieur de la Calprenede by 
the American sailor, the lost vessel must have struck upon one of those 
rocks that raise their black heads before us. I suspect that it came to grief 
upon that which is known as West Bosseven to distinguish it from another 
island of the same name lying considerably further out." 

"Really, but why do we not anchor near Bosseven, if Bosseven is the spot? " 

" Because that would be dangerous. There is no good anchorage there, 
while between the two islands I spoke of we shall be as safe as my aunt is 
when she shelters herself behind her Chinese screen. Besides, on the Isle 
of Greem there are plenty of hares and other game which will furnish 
sport. You can shoot all day if you don't care to watch the operations of 
our divers." 

" It seems to me evident that you don't know the exact situation of the 
wreck." 

" I shall know it by this time to-morrow, my dear fellow. I shall start 
out at daybreak, and my men will explore the depths of the ocean in search 
of the lost gold. Think of it ! these millions belonged to a miner, a Cali- 
fornian who devoted twenty years to accumulating them, and who little 
suspected that he was working for a ruined nobleman." 

"Keep your philosophical reflections for the day of success, and re- 
member La Fontaine's fable. Wait until you have killed your bear before 
you sell his skin." 

" Silence ! You are a confounded pessimist. I won't take you to Bos- 
seven. You would only irritate me and discourage my men." 

" Very well. Then how am I to spend my time? " 

" In thinking about Mademoiselle de la Calprenede. Won't that suffice? 
You are a very strange lover if you can't be content with hope, while wait- 
ing for something better. There will bo nothing to disturb your reveries, 
as you will only see the sea and the sky." 

"You are making fun of me, and that is unkind." 



184 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

"Do you think I would laugh at your anxiety if I did not expect to 
allay it? But seriously I sha'n't need your assistance for the first few 
days, and as I don't wish you to feel too sad you shall be taken on shore every 
morning, and you need not return until night unless you wish to do so." 

" On shore ! And what, in heaven's name, am I to do there ? " 

"Oh, Porsal is a dull place, but the surrounding country is charming. 
There is Saint-Pol-de-Leon near by — the quaintest old town imaginable. 
There is nothing to prevent you from going there. The grass grows as 
luxuriantly in the streets as in a meadow, and one can count as many grave- 
yards as there are houses. Besides, without leaving Porsal, which will be 
our headquarters, you can visit the ruins of Tremazan Castle, which commands 
a fine view of the bay. Look ! you can see the tower from here ; a well 
preserved relic of military engineering art in the thirteenth century." 

" I have no more taste for ruins than I have for graveyards." 

" That's a pity. I thought you were somewhat of an archaeologist. 
Well, then, you shall make the acquaintance of the inhabitants of Porsal — 
excellent people and brave seamen. It would be a very good idea for one 
of us to cultivate the people on shore, for it is of the greatest importance 
that we should make no enemies. We must treat them whenever an op- 
portunity to offer them a drink presents itself ; and we will promise to 
repair their church, which has been greatly damaged by the fierce tempests 
that prevail here. I want the entire population to pray for the success of 
our enterprise. But here we are at the channel, and though our pilot is 
thoroughly acquainted with his business, I am going to see that he doesn't 
run us on some rock in passing. It wouldn't be pleasant to meet with the 
same fate that befell the former owner of these chests of gold. Bemain 
here, if you like. The sun is just setting. It is a sight which Paris cannot 
offer, and well worthy of your attention. " 

Courtaumer then went to the wheel, but Doutrelaise felt no desire to 
follow him. He knew nothing about steering ; and although a thorough 
Parisian he preferred to gaze upon the strange scene before him. On his 
right stretched a rugged broken shore ; around him broke tumultuous, 
foam-crested waves ; and on his left stretched the immensity of ocean — a 
watery waste extending as far as the eye could reach ; while the sun hung 
like a huge ball of molten iron in the western sky. For an instant, he 
yielded to the charm of the wild picture, then his thoughts flew away to a 
mansion on the Boulevard Haussmann, where his heart had lingered, and 
he was obliged to admit that the weird beauty of the sea moved him less than 
a single glance from Arlette, and that the modest light of her lamp was 
worth all the sunsets in the world. 

Courtaumer, seizing the wheel with true nautical enthusiasm, had taken 
the pilot's place, and was proving that no better sailor had ever guided a 
vessel along that coast. He piloted the yacht in and out through the 
rocks with as much ease as if he was driving a phaeton along a straight 
road, and followed the intricate course with an accuracy that was re- 
warded with murmurs of approval from a crew composed of picked seamen, 
several of whom had served under him before. Three quarters of an hour 
after rounding the southern extremity of Green Island, the yacht was 
riding at anchor at a short distance from a lonely rocky shore. Cour- 
taumer was not the man to despise material comforts, and he had laid in 
an abundant supply of choice provisions ; the wines, too, were excellent. 
A man who had formerly served as a cook on one of the French trans- 
atlantic steamers had been engaged, and in this, his first effort, he sur- 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 185 

passed himself. At half past ten, the two friends were still at table, and 
Doutrelaise was finally obliged to laugh at the sallies of his incorrigible 
friend, who, after trying his best to make him intoxicated, had signally 
failed, Albert not being one of those lovers who drink to drown their dis- 
appointment and anxiety. At about eleven o'clock they went on deck 
for the laudable purpose of smoking a cigar before retiring to bed. The 
crew, surfeited with extra rations and supplementary glasses of grog, were 
already asleep, with the exception of the two men on watch. The night 
was dark and the sky starless, but the wind had changed. " We shall 
have fair weather to-morrow," said Jacques gaily. "There will be nothing 
to interfere with our work." 

"What is that light over there ? " asked Doutrelaise, pointing to a lum- 
inous speck in the surrounding gloom. " I thought there was no land in 
that direction. 

" Land ! no. That must have been lighted in honour of our arrival." 

" It is on some fishing-boat, perhaps," suggested Doutrelaise. 

"Xo. In the first place, fishing-boats that go out at night-time 
generally dispense with lights, besides this light is motionless. If it were 
on a boat, it would be dancing about." 

' ' But I thought there were only a few isolated rocks on this side. If I 
am not mistaken we passed this spot on entering the channel. " 

" Quite so ; and I must confess that I don't understand the meaning of 
this light. However, we will ask one of the men on watch. They know 
every pebble along these shores. Here, Ploarec ! " 

A sailor who was smoking his pipe near the gunwale, turned in answer 
to the summons. ' ' Do you see that light ? " said Courtaumer. 

" Yes, captain," replied the man, raising his hand to his cap ; "it is a 
lantern." 

" Where is it ? " 

" On West Bosseven, captain." 

"Are you sure of that ? " 

"Yes, captain ; quite sure of it." 

" What can any one be doing there ? " 

"Setting lobster-traps, sir." 

"That's true. It must be a good place. I didn't think of that, and 
was surprised to see a lantern perched upon a rock which is as bare as my 
hand. We passed it, but the man had not moored his boat there then. 
Where can he have come from ? " 

"From Porsal, captain. He will go. back home to-night, and return for 
his traps to-morrow." 

" I presume he won't be sorry to sell me his fish. Thank you, Ploarec. 7 ' 

"I have listened, but I am not much wiser," remarked Doutrelaise, 
when the sailor had left them. " What does he mean by setting traps ? " 

"He means placing some willow baskets with bait for the capture of 
lobsters in the water. We can have some for dinner to-morrow. " 

"Indeed! I thought — An entirely different idea occurred to me. 
Wasn't it in the vicinity of that rock that the ship laden with gold went 
down ? " 

" And you imagined that the lantern was in the hands of some one else 
hunting for the millions ? But that's improbable. Fishing for gold isn't 
as easy as fishing for lobsters ; besides, if any one attempted to touch a 
wreck which is the property of Monsieur de la Calprenede, I should 
promptly put a stop to his unlawful depredations upon the count's domain. 



186 THE MATAPAN AFFAIIt. 

So don't indulge in any such foolish delusions, but let us go to bed so as to 
be up early to-morrow." 

Doutrelaise did not object to this arrangement, for he longed to be alone, 
so that he might dream of his inamorata. It was daybreak when Jacques 
entered his cabin to rouse him and inform him that the weather was all 
that could be desired. The long boat was in readiness and the apparatus 
and the men had already gone off. It was finally decided that after visit- 
ing the rock with his friend, Doutrelaise should spend the day on shore, 
returning to the yacht in time for dinner. 

At about ten o'clock they reached Bosseven, a large rock, nearly 
circular in form, with a very uneven surface, tolerably level on on? 
side, but rugged and precipitous on the other, where sharp, beetling crags 
abounded. Similar jagged rocks extended a long distance from the shore, 
but they were entirely under water, and it was probably upon the hidden 
ledge that the American vessel had struck. The water around was exceed- 
ingly deep. Courtaumer was the first to set foot upon the rock of Boss- 
even, and he felt strongly tempted to plant a tri-coloured flag upon it, 
according to custom when one takes possession of a newly discovered 
island. Doutrelaise followed him, and" the men began to prepare the 
apparatus used in sub-marine explorations. "This will be a capital place 
to work," said Jacques. " This rock will hold many more people than the 
mansion of the illustrious Matapan. There is plenty of room for my 
men and my apparatus, and when we have obtained possession of the 
chests of gold, we will give a ball here to the ladies of Porsal, Porspoder, 
Lampaul, and even Ploudalmezeau, which is the largest place in the can- 
ton. It would be a, fete that these people would talk about for fifty years." 

" The bear's hide again ! " murmured Doutrelaise. 

" We will kill our bear, or rather, we will fish him up. Look ! do you 
notice that spot in the water ? It is of a bright green colour, without any 
of those patches of red or brown which indicate the presence of invisible 
rocks. Ah, well, it is there that the wreck lies below twenty or thirty 
fathoms of water. I can picture the shipwreck now as plainly as if I had 
been on board. The American vessel'took a north-easterly course, with the 
intention of entering Saint George's channel. She was bound for Liverpool. 
A western gale drove her from her course, towards the English Channel. 
However she either had no pilot, or he failed to discern not merely the 
Ouessant light but the others along the coast, as frequently occurs on foggy 
nights — and she ran straight upon the Porsal rocks — there are a host of 
them, enough to shatter all the fleets in the universe. If this vessel had 
not struck upon Bosseven, it would have struck upon one of the others, or 
upon the coast, which is only a short distance off. " 

"In that case," said Doutrelaise, "I am surprised that the sailor who 
revealed the secret to Monsieur de la Calprenede was picked up at sea. It 
seems to me it would have been an easy matter for him to have reached 
the shore, if he knew how to swim." 

"You talk like the Parisian that you are. The poor wretch had no 
choice. He managed to seize a floating chicken-coop, to which he clung 
desperately, going wherever the current took him. Ah ! had a wave cast 
him upon Bosseven just as the vessel went to pieces, it is probable that 
everybody would have hsard the story of the lost millions. So everything 
was for the best, even the death of the poor devil, who would probably 
have eventually divulged his secret. " 

" Your reasoning is admirable, certainly ; but I can't understand why 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 187 

the treasure, if it really c\ists, has never been discovered ; and on seeing 
that light last evening — " 

" You fancied that some gold-hunter was ahead of us. Ah, well, it will 
now be an easy matter to convince you that Ploarec was not mistaken 
when he gave us his explanation of the phenomenon. Do you see those 
large flat corks floating on the water? Well, they indicate the position of 
the lobster-traps, and I am sure the fishermen capture a large number, for 
the wreck must furnish these voracious creatures with ample food. They 
eat anything, but prefer corpses, my dear fellow." 

' ' Thanks, for the information. I shall not forget it the next time I am 
offered some lobster salad. But where did this rubbish come from ? " sud- 
denly inquired Doutrelaise, stooping to pick up a broken bottle that was 
lying in a crevice of the rock. 

"That contained rum," said Courtaumer, after smelling the bottle. 
"These fishermen are not averse to that beverage by any means. Some 
Porsal man has drained it and then flung it aside." 

" Didn't you notice the label ? " 

"No; let me see. Why, it came from Cuvillier's, the fashionable 
establishment in the Rue de la Paix. These people certainly don't pur- 
chase their supplies there. This bottle puzzles me." 

"And alarms me," said Doutrelaise. 

"Another of your chimerical fears!" exclaimed Courtaumer. "Your 
imagination is too vivid, my dear fellow." 

" Still, this bottle did not get here unhelped, and as it was purchased in 
Paris—" 

"It was a Parisian who brought it here." 

" To Bosseven ? That seems hardly probable," replied Albert. 

" I admit that Bosseven isn't a fashionable seaside resort, but during the 
siimmer the neighbouring coast is often visited by tourists. There isn't a 
village between Paimpol and Lorient that does not make pretensions to 
being a watering-place. Every spot has its admirers, and I am well ac- 
quainted with one fashionable family who leave their elegant mansion in 
the Avenue d'Eylau every year to spend the months of July, August and 
September at Douarnenez, where everything smells of sardines, even to the 
water one drinks. " 

" You always have an answer ready, but I have my doubts." 

' ' Well, there is nothing to prevent you from investigating the matter. 
The boat is going to take you to Porsal. Talk with the people there, and 
ascertain if there are any strangers in the neighbourhood. If there are 
any, the fa^t would not be likely to pass unnoticed." 

" Especially if they have come recently, for in the month of January 
tourists must be rare in this out-of-the-way place." 

" Oh, you will soon obtain the necessary information — and you have the 
whole day before you. This evening, on your return, you shall tell me 
what you have learned, and I shall perhaps have some good news for you. 
Come, the boatmen are waiting. Wind and tide are both in your favour, 
and you will reach the shore in twenty minutes. " 

As Courtaumer had prophesied, the trip proved a short one. The sea 
was calm, and the tiny craft seemed to fly over the surface of the 
water. The oarsmen guided it towards the harbour of Porsal, leaving 
Green Island to the larboard. A quarter of an hour after its departure, 
the frail skiff rounded a rocky promontory and entered a large bay divided 
in the centre by a long neck of land which formed two basins of equal size. 



188 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

The somewhat gloomy scenery harmonised with Albert's mood, and it was 
with no little pleasure that he set foot on the miry beach skirting the 
cottages occupied by the inhabitants of the little seaside hamlet which he 
now beheld for the first time. A dozen boats were lying on the beach 
waiting for the tide to set them afloat ; women were knitting on their 
doorsteps with their children playing around them, and some seamen with 
their pipes in their mouth, were leisurely mending their nets. They did 
not appear at all surprised to see a fashionable Parisian gentleman. The 
arrival of the yacht had evidently already been reported, and they knew 
that it contained strangers. It is more difficult to preserve one's incognito 
on the seashore than in any town, large or small. 

Doutrelaise told his two oarsmen to help themselves from the abundant 
supply of liquors with which the boat was provided, reserving for himself 
merely a partridge pie and a bottle of old Burgundy, which he intended to 
deal with after he had gained an appetite by a long waik. This arrange- 
ment suited the men perfectly, and they would have felt greatly disap- 
pointed, had he requested them to accompany him. He preferred, however, 
to apply for the information he wanted to an old sailor, who was lounging 
on a sort of wharf built of large stones piled up haphazard. The man had 
an honest genial face, and lifted his tarpaulin respectfully on the approach 
of Doutrelaise, whose first inquiry was if there was an inn in the village. 

"They sell liquor in nearly all the houses," was the fisherman's reply, 
" but you will only find brandy and cider there, and you are probably not 
very fond of either beverage." 

" Not particularly," replied Doutrelaise, smiling. "I have some wine in 
my boat, and you must allow me to offer you a bottle. I merely wished to 
ascertain if tourists could find accommodation here." 

" There are plenty of curtained beds to be had for the asking, but they 
wouldn't suit everybody. The English lord who comes here every year to 
fish pretends he would as soon sleep in a cupboard." 

"He comes during the summer, I suppose ? " 

" Oh ! summer and winter are the same to him. He scorns bad weather. 
He goes outside when none of us would dare to pass Cape Tremazan. 
Last week, it was blowing so badly that the waves in the channel seemed 
mountain -high, but for all that, he went out in his boat and didn't return 
until the morning. He's here now, and this time he has brought with him 
one of his friends, a fellow who is as crazy about boating and fishing as 
he is, and they have hired that big house you see over there." 

" Is his friend also an Englishman ? 

" He doesn't look like one. I am inclined to think he's a Spaniard. 
But he must have had as much sea-faring experience as the other, for he 
handles an oar and manages a boat like a thorough sailor. However, they 
are both from Paris. " 

"The bottle of rum purchased at Cuvillier's is explained," thought 
Doutrelaise. 

" Do you know whether these gentlemen sometimes fish on a rock called 
Bosseven ? " he inquired. 

" Oh ! yes, round about Bosseven, Men-Gouziane, Leach-Braz, and every 
other rock where there is any chance of catching a fish. But they always 
go out at night ; they sleep all day. " 

" Now I know what to think about the light we saw last evening," mut- 
tered Doutrelaise. 

"If you care to make their acquaintance, you must come ashore about 



TIIIO MATAPAN AFFAIR. 189 

dusk when they generally cnuc down to smoke a pipe with us, and stand 
treat when they are good-natured — which does not often happen. But 
begging your pardon, sir, are you the engineer who has been sent from 
Brest to make the soundings in the Relec Channel ? " 

"No; I have merely accompanied him for my own amusement, and came 
on shore for a walk. What is there to see here ? " 

"Not much, when one has seen the village — that is barring the ruined 
castle which strangers think quite a curiosity. The square tower is nearly 
as high as the mainmast of a frigate." 

" A Veil, I will pay it a visit. The house in which these gentlemen live is 
near the castle, isn't it ? " 

" Yes ; it's the one with green shutters. It was built by a shipbuilder 
from Morlaix some years ago, and though it looks very well, it isn't in much 
better repair than the castle." 

" Thanks, my friend, we shall soon meet again, and I hope you will do 
me the favour to take a drink with me. " 

" I shall feel no inclination to refuse," was the seaman's laughing re- 
sponse. 

He did not offer to act as a guide, and Doutrelaise preferred to visit the 
castle alone. The visitors whom this native of Porsal had spoken about 
had aroused his curiosity, and he was anxious to meet them and see with 
whom he and Courtaumer would have to deal during their sojourn on the 
coast, for the strangers would, no doubt, sooner or later, show themselves 
near the yacht. He proceeded leisurely towards the ruins, which 
stood upon an eminence commanding a view of the harbour, and suddenly, 
on looking up, he perceived a man emerging from the house with the green 
shutters. As well as Doutrelaise could judge, from a distance, this stranger 
was dressed like a fisherman, and he carried a bag, which perhaps con- 
tained some tackle, slung over his shoulder. Still it seemed rather heavy 
to have such insignificant contents. The man ascended the hill without 
turning to look behind him, and when he had reached the ruins, he dis- 
appeared under the arched gateway of the outer enclosure. Doutrelaise had 
taken the footpath leading up the side of the hill, the ascent of which was 
neither long nor difficult. The young fellow paused for a moment in front 
of the house with the green shutters, and perceived that the sailor who had 
just been talking with him was quite right in saying that it was almost 
as dilapidated as the castle. "It is anything but a comfortable abode," 
thought Albert, " and this Englishman must be crazy to establish himself in 
such a dwelling in the winter. They say that some of his countrymen rent 
places in Norway, and even in Lapland, in order to fish for salmon, but 
they only engage in this sport in summer. I am curious to see this ecoentric 
man who takes up his abode in Porsal in the month of January, and I shall 
surely meet him sooner or later, as Bosseven seems to be a sort of head- 
quarters for lobsters and the like." 

Engaged in reflections of this nature, Doutrelaise continued his ascent, 
and soon reached the old castle, which was indeed a well-preserved fragment 
of the military architecture of medieval times. The young fellow crossed 
a courtyard, at the end of which rose a square tower some ninety feet in 
height, and on entering it he perceived a stone staircase built in the wall, 
and probabty leading to the battlements above. He began to climb it 
without really knowing why, for he had little taste for archeology, still he 
persevered until he reached the summit. An extensive view of the surround- 
ing country rewarded him for his exertions. On one side lay the land with 



190 TTTE MATAPAX AFFAIR. 

its trees, farm-houses and church spires ; on the other hand, stretched the 
sea with its countless islands, white-sailed vessels, and foam-crested waves. 
Doutrelaise had no difficulty in recognising Bosseven, and could even dis- 
tinguish the workmen in the employ of Jacques de Courtaumer. 

" Ah," thought Albert, "even if Jacques succeeded, even if the sea did 
yield up its buried treasures to Monsieur de la Calprenede, in what way 
should I be benefited ? If the count were worth his millions, would he give 
me the daughter he refused to give me when he was poor ? No, for I sha'u't 
even have the credit of having assisted Jacques in the recovery of this gold. 
Jacques doesn't require my help, I cannot be of the slightest service to him, 
and I often ask nryself why he has brought me here." The wind, which 
was whistling a melancholy dirge around the ruins, whispered an evil 
thought in Albert's ear. "Who knows but that it is for himself he is 
working ? " it murmured. 

But he quickly drove away the suspicion, which was alike unworthy of 
him and of the friendship which existed between himself and Jacques de 
Courtaumer, and he wondered what could have become of the man whom 
he had seen leaving the house with the green shutters and entering the 
castle, the man whom his personal anxieties and fears had caused him to 
forget. His sudden disappearance was strange, but Doutrelaise, who 
attached no great importance to it, said to himself that he had probably 
gone in one direction and the stranger in another, and he decided to descend 
from his perch and return to the boat, where various toothsome dainties 
were awaiting him. Just as he had reached the foot of the staircase, how- 
ever, he was not a little surprised to see the stranger suddenly appear with 
an empty bag in his hand, the same bag which he had carried with difficulty 
in climbing the hill. The stranger seemed even more astonished than 
Doutrelaise on finding himself face to face with a person in the garb of a 
fashionable tourist. He stepped back hastily against the wall, and had it 
not been for this obstacle he would probably have gone off, for the meeting 
seemed to be anything but pleasing to him ; but there was only one door, 
and Albert barred the way. " Good morning, my friend," said Doutrelaise. 
" I saw you enter the castle a few moments ago, but afterwards lost sight 
of you. Where the deuce were you ? " 

"At the back of the tower, probably," was the rather reluctant 
response. 

"Ah ! that explains it. Come out into the open air, where we can talk 
more comfortably," added Doutrelaise, stepping into the courtyard. 

The man, who seemed anxious to leave the place, needed no urging. In 
manner and appearance, he strongly resembled a sailor, am' vet Doutrelaise 
experienced a singular impression on glancing at him. His sly look 
awakened some vague recollection in the young fellow's mind, and he 
almost fancied that he had seen him somewhere before. 

"You just left the Englishman's house, didn't you?" inquired Albert. 
" Are you in his service ? " 

The man hesitated for a moment, but finally replied, with a faint smile : 
"I am the Englishman." 

" What ! it is you who have come here to fish ?" exclaimed Doutrelaise, 
in amazement. 

' Yes ; a fondness for fishing is no crime, 1 believe." 

" No, certainly not, and I beg you to excuse me for mistaking you for a 
different person. You look so little like an Englishman, that I — " 

"You can't always judge from appearances; I was born in England, 



THE MAT>PAN AFFAIR. 191 

but I was brought up in India, and have spent more time on the continent 
than in my own country." 

" You have been in Paris recently, I hear." 

" Yes ; and strange as it may appear, it seems to me 1 met you there." 

"That is quite possible, for it seems to me I have seen your face 
before." 

" Did you como to Porsal to fish ? " asked the stranger. 

" Not exactly ; I merely accompanied one of my friends who has business 
in the neighbourhood." 

"Then you belong to the yacht that anchored offGreen Island yesterday ? " 

" Yes; and this morning I decided to visit the ruins, the only object of 
interest in the neighbourhood." 

" Might I venture to ask the name of the officer in command of your 
vessel ? " 

" Certainly. It is Monsieur de Courtaumer." 

" Cortaumer ! the gentleman who was formerly a lieutenant in the 
navy ? " 

"The same," replied Doutrelaise, "Jacques de Courtamer. Do you 
know him ? " 

"Oh, no," stammered the stranger, who had suddenly changed counte- 
nance. " I don't know him, but I have heard him spoken of." 

"If you wish to make his acquaintance it will be a very easy matter. 
You often leave the harbour to fish, and there is nothing to prevent you 
from coming on board the yacht. We shall be delighted to see you." 

" Thank you, but I am not very fond of society ; in fact, I only care for 
fishing and — " 

" And your friend probably shares your tastes, for you have a friend with 
you, so the people of Porsal informed me. " 

" So they told you that, did they ? Ah, well ! they know nothing about 
it. There are two of us, it is true, because it takes two persons to manage 
a fishing-boat, but the idiots don't know whether my companion is a 
friend or a servant. " 

" I assure you that it makes no difference whatever to me," Doutrelaise 
answered, "and you are not at all obliged to cultivate our acquaintance, 
but the chances are that we shall meet occasionally, for I am told that you 
go to Bosseven every night to set your lobster-traps there." 

"Bosseven ! " repeated the man, recoiling a step or two, " do you know 
where Bosseven is ? " 

"Perfectly well. It is in the immediate vicinity of that island that 
Monsieur de Courtaumer is going to make some soundings." 

" Soundings, and for what purpose pray? " 

" He will tell you himself if you will take the trouble to ask him." 

" Ah, I understand ; he has been entrusted with a mission by the hydro- 
graphic service." 

" He has a mission, it is true, and I assure you that he will fulfil it. He 
is a man who always does his duty thoroughly. But does the fact that he 
will be working at Bosseven annoy you ? " 

"Well, it will interfere with me a little — because that is the best place 
for fishing in the neighbourhood, and your friend's soundings will frighten 
the fish away. But I will try and find some sport elsewhere for a while." 

" But why ? You only fish at night, I think — that is, you set your traps 
then, don't you ? " 

"Yes, it is the best time. We take them away very early in the morning." 



192 THB MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" Well, the work which my friend has to conduct will be done during the 
day. One must be an enthusiast to wander about at night as you do." 

" Oh, I only go to Bosseven, and I shall discontinue my visits there, fo?, 
you see, lobsters are very shy — the least noise frightens them, and they will 
now probably desert Bosseven.." 

" That would be a pity. I relied on a feast." 

" Your men will find some elsewhere. Have you many men on board ? " 

"About twenty." 

The Englishman's face lengthened perceptibly, but after a short pause, 
he remarked carelessly : " The rascals will take everything they can lay 
their hands upon, probably. I shall give up my traps for the present, and 
go outside to fish until your work is accomplished. Will it require long ? " 

" I don't know ; perhaps one month, perhaps two. Courtaumer can tell 
you much better than I can. " 

" It is hardly likely that I shall remain here so long. I shall return to 
England, I think, and remain there until the spring. " 

" I am sorry we have interfered with your plans. But you won't leave 
to-morrow, I suppose ? " 

" Certainly not to-morrow, nor even this week. I must write to London 
for my yacht. I dislike travelling by land." 

" Ah, so you have a yacht ! I congratulate you. I am sure it is more 
luxuriously appointed than ours ; still, if you felt inclined to pay us a visit 
one of these days, we should be very glad to offer you proper hospitality. 
But I am detaining you here, and you are probably anxious to return home, 
unless you have a taste for archaeology, in which case these ruins could not 
fail to interest you. Can you tell me the date of the castle's construction?" 

" I know nothing at at all about such matters." 

" Excuse me, but seeing you enter here with a bag on your shoulder, I 
fancied you had come to draw a plan or take a photograph of it." 

"A bag," stammered the man. "Ah, yes; I keep my fishing-tackle 
in it." 

" And you store your tackle here ; I understand. Ah, well, sir, allow 
me to bid you good-morning. " Doutrelaise bowed as he spoke, and then 
passed out through the gate by which he had entered the castle. The 
Englishman showed no inclination to prolong the conversation, but 
followed Albert at a distance, walking with measured tread. 

" A singular interview, and a most extraordinary person," Doutrelaise 
said to himself, as he descended the hill. "Jacques will be greatly aston- 
ished when I repeat my conversation with this eccentric man. The 
English are strange creatures. But is he really an Englishman ? I ought 
to have satisfied myself on that point by addressing him in his own 
language. I am not a very clever English scholar, but I am sufficiently ac- 
quainted with the tongue to know whether he pronounces it correctly or not. 
Bah ! what do I care about his nationality, after all ? But I am not sorry 
he is going away ; he might cause us some annoyance. Somehow or other, 
I cannot rid myself of the impression that I have met him somewhere 
before." 

On reaching the foot of the hill, Doutrelaise turned and saw the man enter- 
ing the house with the green shutters. The village was not far off, and 
Albert reached it a few minutes later. The old fisherman whom he had 
spoken to was still there, and asked him how he had enjoyed his walk. " I 
have not wasted my time," replied Doutrelaise, with a laugh. " I had 
quite a conversation with the Englishman." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 193 

" Yes, I saw you together. You met him at the castle, didn't you ? He 
goes there every day." 

" Yes, but I did not see his friend." 

" The Spaniard? He never goes out before the evening. You 'will be 
sure to meet him if you remain with me until to-morrow morning." 

But Doutrelaise was not at all inclined to do that. The only thing he 
now really desired was his breakfast, for he was very hungry, and he in- 
vited his new acquaintance to accompany him to the boat, where that 
delectable partridge pie was awaiting him. But the fisherman would only 
accept a glass of wine and a bottle of brandy to take home with him. In 
exchange for this precious gift, he gave Doutrelaise a bit of excellent advice, 
which was to set out on his return as soon as possible. The wind was 
rising, and as it came from the south-west, it would be better not to wait 
for the gale that seemed imminent. Accordingly, Doutrelaise gave orders 
to return. It was fortunate that he did so, for the little boat had 
scarcely rounded the cape protecting the harbour from the gales before the 
violence of the current and a heavy sea compelled the crew to keep close to the 
shore and enter the Relec Channel. 

This was not the way to return to Bosseven ; but they had no choice. 
Even then, it took them three hours to reach the yacht. The two boat- 
men were nearly exhausted, and more than once Doutrelaise feared they 
would be carried out into the channel. Courtaumer had just returned, and 
although he had experienced much less difficulty, he greeted his friends 
with these words : " You acted wisely in hastening your return. Had you 
waited a half-hour longer, you would not have been able to reach the 
yacht. I have great news to tell you." 

" Important as your news may be, you must allow me to dry myself 
before listening to it," replied Doutrelaise. " I am as wet as if I had fallen 
into the sea." 

Doutrelaise, who was shivering, then hastened to his cabin, and put on 
some dry clothes after rubbing himself vigorously. Twenty minutes later, 
the circulation of the blood being thoroughly re-established, he entered the 
saloon, which contained a number of luxurious divans, a book-case filled 
with well-chosen volumes, and an excellent piano. Courtaumer was await- 
ing him there. "You feel more comfortable now, don't you?" inquired 
Jacques. " I have prepared a glass of toddy to warm the inner man. 
Drink it, light a pipe or a cigar, and give me your undivided attention. I 
have important news, I tell you." 

" I can guess what you have to say," replied Doutrelaise, after he had 
swallowed the strong compound which his friend had just concocted. 
"Your divers have found nothing." 

"You are entirely mistaken. The information given by the American 
sailor has proved to be correct in every particular. The vessel struck on a 
ledge of rock which is not visible even at low tide, but which is as jagged 
as the teeth of a saw. The prow of the shipwrecked clipper came in col- 
lision with this formidable obstacle, and was shattered into a thousand 
fragments. The bed of the ocean is hard and rocky at this point, so that 
the hull has not been buried in sand, but lies on one side, and there 
is an opening in it through which ten men could easily pass shoulder to 
shoulder." 

"That is indeed a fortunate discovery. But how about the chests full 
of gold ? " 

" They are there." 

G 



194 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

"Really?" exclaimed Doutrelaise. "I confess that I did not be- 
lieve it." 

" You can believe it now. My men have seen and counted them. 
There are a dozen of them, and I have satisfied myself as to the genuine 
character of the contents." 

" Then your news is indeed good news." 

" Yes, bat — there is a ' but,' you see — the gold has been tampered with. 
Eleven of the twelve chests are intact : the twelfth has been opened. Its 
lid has been shattered with a pick-axe, and the fastenings have been 
wrenched off." 

" And the contents removed? " 

" Not entirely, but in a great measure." 

"That's strange." 

" It proves that some one is ahead of us, though not by much, as he has 
not even had time to empty one of the chests." 

' ' Who can have done it ? " 

" I have no idea ; it can't be any of the people in the neighbourhood. 
To descend to such a depth, one requires apparatus which the fishermen 
don't possess. A party of men in a boat anchored over the wreck could 
never have succeeded in breaking open an iron chest and raising one of 
the heavy bars of gold to the surface. The one my men recovered to-day 
weighs nearly thirty pounds, and there are some even heavier. Besides, in 
the hold my divers found some implements such as are only used by men of 
their own profession." 

" In that case, the people who began this work must have used a diving- 
bell." 

" Impossible ! for every one for ten leagues around would have heard of 
it. An undertaking of that kind doesn't pass unobserved. A large vessel, 
several smaller ones, and the help of fifteen or twenty men, are necessary. " 

" Then how do you explain the mystery ?" 

" I think that the work has been done by three or four persons, perhaps 
by only two or three bold companions, who have heard of the shipwreck, 
and who have come here secretly to obtain possession of the gold." 

"Would this be possible under the circumstances ? " 

" The fact that the rascals have already secured several hundred thousand 
francs is sufficient proof of the practicability of their scheme. It is even 
possible that two persons might have accomplished it." 

' ' Two ! " repeated Doutrelaise, thoughtfully. 

" Yes, and certainly there can't be many of them, as they have not yet 
extracted a paltry million. Equipped as we are, we shall extract nearly a 
million a day. I am sure of this, now that I know how easy it is to obtain 
access to the wreck. " 

"It may be that Monsieur de la Calprenede's rivals have been at work 
only a short time. However, what do .you intend to do?" 

" To proceed as if nothing of the kind had occurred, of course. These 
rascals will have plenty of business on their hands if they attempt to dis- 
pute possession of the wreck with us, and they won't think of doing so. 
But I intend to catch them, and have formed my plans accordingly. It 
isn't probable that they will attempt the work in the daytime, and to pre- 
vent them from doing so at night, four of our men will mount guard there 
every evening. I should have carried my pians into execution this very 
night if the weather had been more propitious, but the scoundrels won't 
venture out in a sea like this, ' 



TITK MATAPAN AFFAIR. 19") 

" You think the tempest is going to last, then ? " 

" In the first place it isn't a tempest, but merely a squall, and I feel com 
paratively sure that we shall have pleasant weather to-morrow. The 
barometer is rising ; we shall be able to begin work, and on and after 
to-morrow evening Bosseven will be watched night and day." 

" What would you say if I told you that I had perhaps discovered the 
leader of this expedition directed against the millions you are trying to 
recover ? " 

"Bah ! who is it ?" 

" A very vulgar and unprepossessing Englishman, who has been living 
for about a month in a house near the ruins of the castle." 

" An Englishman ! That isn't very suprising. As I remarked last even- 
ing, one meets English people everywhere." 

" Yes, but this man is, to say the least, very peculiar in his tastes. He 
goes out every night to fish for lobsters with a companion whom I have not 
seen, but who does not look in the least like an Englishman, that is, so I 
am told. The fisherman who gave me this information also asserted that 
they were the persons who set their traps off Bosseven last evening." 

' ' Then it must have been their lantern we saw. This discovery is indeed 
worthy of attention. It seems as if the deceased sailor had taken them into 
his confidence as well as Monsieur de la Calprenede." 

"The strangest thing about it is, that the man's face doesn't seem 
altogether unfamiliar to me. " 

"Indeed, well, I will go to Porsal to-morrow and have a look at these 
gentlemen — that is if I have the time, for to-morrow I am going to engage 
in the work myself. You will have an opportunity to see me descend to 
the bottom of the Atlantic in a diver's costume. I wish to examine the 
wreck and see the gold for myself. But let us have dinner now and then 
go to bed, so as to be ready to rise with the sun." 

Doutrelaise assented. The dinner proved excellent. The wind soon 
abated, and the sea speedily became calm again. The sailor at the lookout 
had nothing whatever to report, and no lights appeared near Bosseven. 
The Englishman had doubtless gone elsewhere to fish. 



XV 

Jacques de Cotjrtaumer had prophesied fine weather, and the next morn- 
ing the weather was superb, indeed. The wind had changed during the 
night, the sea had become calm again, and the sky was cloudless. Even 
Bosseven, gloomy old Bosseven, had assumed a joyous aspect ; snow-white 
sea-gulls skimmed merrily over the blue waves, and the sailors from the 
yacht, scattered over the rock, seemed bent on a pleasure party. They 
had just finished a bountiful breakfast, and everybody was preparing for 
the exploration which their captain was now to lead in person. Jacques 
was already arrayed in his diving suit, with the exception of his helmet, 
and Doutrelaise was gaily assisting in the final preparations for the sub- 
marine expedition. "If your aunt saw you in these accoutrements, she 
would think you had gone mad," he remarked to Jacques. 

" She thinks so already," replied Courtaumer. " I feel very comfortable, 
however : these leaden-soled shoes are rather heavy, it is true, but the 
india-rubber garments are very pliable, and when I put on my helmet, I 
shall look like a knight of the middle ages starting on a crusade. I am sure 



196 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

I should achieve a great success at the Bal de l'Opera ; and if I promenaded 
through Matapan's baronial halls in this garb, the aimable Marchefroid 
would die of terror, a consummation most devoutly to be wished for. How- 
ever, I should not advise you to array yourself in such a manner to ask for 
the hand of Mademoiselle de la Calprenede." 

" Alas ! her father would refuse it even if I presented myself in a black 
dress coat and a white cravat. " 

" You shall put on a plain frock coat, and he will give it to you." 

" Have you telegraphed him the good news ? " 

" No. In the first place there is no telegraph office at Porsal. I should 
have had to send the message to Conquet, and I need all my men to-day ; 
besides, I did not care to announce my discovery until after I had achieved a 
complete success. Monsieur de la Calprenede wrote to me every day while 
we were at Brest, and I tried to persuade him to be patient. I hope he 
will be so, although I shouldn't be so much surprised if he made his appear- 
ance here some day unannounced." 

"Alone?" inquired Doutrelaise eagerly. 

"Well, no. It is hardly likely that he would consent to leave his 
daughter with no protector but her maid, in a house where he only has 
enemies. She has a brother, it is true, but one can't place much reliance 
upon him." 

" But on the other hand, how can the count bring Mademoiselle Arlette 
to a fishing hamlet, where one can't even obtain a decent lodging ? " 

" You forget that we have luxurious apartments on board our yacht." 

" And you forget that Monsieur de la Calprenede will be very disagree- 
ably surprised when he sees me, for he is still ignorant of the fact that I 
accompanied you." 

" But Mademoiselle de la Calprenede knows it." 

" All the same if they do come, I shall be obliged to leave at once." 

" Bah ! we will arrange matters, never fear. To tell the truth, I 
shouldn't be at all sorry to have the stern parent find you here. The close 
proximity of the millions might help in hastening the finish of your romance. 
But I am talking nonsense here, while my brave diver is waiting for me to 
descend. I am not yet quite equal to going alone. Besides, in case of any 
accident, it is better that there should be two of us." 

" Kxplain how you proceed, for I haven't the slightest idea." 

" Nothing could be more simple. This costume is, as you see, com- 
pletely impervious to water, and I am as safe inside it as a turtle within 
his shell. The rubber-tube attached to the helmet, is the thread that binds 
me to life, for it is through this tube that my men send me the air I need 
to exist in Neptune's realm. This rope fastened to my belt enables our 
men to draw me to the surface when I give the signal for them to do so by 
pulling this other rope, which is secured to a bell fastened to our boat. I 
shall take no implements with me, as I don't intend to work, but when my 
divers begin their task, they will have hatchets, pincers, spades, saws, in 
fact, all the tools necessary for opening the chests, fastened to their persons 
as well as two bags in which to place the gold. Hewever, I am going 
down merely for a promenade, a sort of tour of inspection. Any child 
could do what I am going to do." 

" One would think to hear you that there was no danger." 
"There are two dangers. The glass mask in front of the helmet mav 
break ; or the rubber air-tube may be cut, or, what is of more frequent 
occurrence, become entangled around some object in such a way as to 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 197 

prevent the air from above from reaching the diver. In either case, 
death would perhaps be the result. However, a man generally has time 
enough to ring and if he is drawn to the surface promptly, before as- 
phyxia becomes complete, he is almost sure to recover. There are some 
inconveniences, however, to which it takes time to grow accustomed. 
For instance, the rushing sound in one's head and ears. It is also neces- 
sary to keep an upright position, which is no easy matter, as it is very 
difficult to maintain one's equilibrium in deep water. One must, more- 
over, accustom oneself to distinguishing objects in the faint and un- 
certain light that traverses the many feet of water that separate one 
from the sun's rays." 

" What you say is very interesting, but what necessity is there for 
you to descend to these watery depths, in which your life will be endan- 
gered ? " 

" My dear fellow, a captain who remains in camp while his men are un- 
der fire never has good soldiers ; besides, I cannot rely implicitly upon the 
report of a subordinate. I must see for myself. So don't attempt to dis- 
suade me from going down, for if I should back out now my diver would 
certainly make fun of me. You must see that the men at the pump send 
me my supply of air regularly. You won't have time to grow anxious, for 
I shall not be absent long. Ploarec, bring me my helmet." 

The head diver had already donned his submarine costume, Courtaumer's 
helmet was fastened on, and after shaking hands with Doutrelaise, he en- 
tered the boat, placed his foot on the ladder fastened to its side, and des- 
cended slowly into the sea. The man who was to act as his guide had pre- 
ceded him. As Doutrelaise saw his friend disappear and the water close over 
him his heart sank. Jacques de Courtaumer was a brave fellow, and he had 
spoken in no boastful spirit when he said that this submarine excursion had 
no terrors for him. Nevertheless, he experienced considerable emotion 
during the swift and perpendicular descent which would end only when he 
had reached the bottom of the sea. Dragged down by his leaden-soled 
shoes and the leaden cuirass that protected his chest, he sank rapidly, and 
the deeper he descended the more intense became that indescribable sensa- 
tion which only professional divers know. There was at first a feeling of 
discomfort, then of oppression, and finally of suffocation. His blood rushed 
to his head, his arteries throbbed heavily and rapidly; there was a strange 
buzzing sound in his ears, and his sight became dim. He felt as if a band 
of iron encircled his temples. 

Gradually, however, the diver becomes accustomed to the scanty supply 
of air sent him from above by the men who hold his life in their hands. 
Gradually, too, his eyes grow accustomed to gazing through the glass front 
of the helmet, and he finally regains the freedom of movement of which the 
pressure of the water at first deprived him. Jacques had indeed become 
himself again before he reached the bottom, and he advanced without diffi- 
culty towards the professional diver who had preceded him, and who now 
offered him a hand to sustain and guide him. There was no one to contem- 
plate them save the fishes, who, alarmed by their unexpected presence, fled 
precipitately. Courtaumer had accepted the hand which his more experi- 
enced companion offered to him, and the pair advanced together towards 
the wreck, that rose up before them like a submarine mountain. The ship 
was lying on its side, and a large hole in the hull enabled anyone to enter 
it without the slightest difficulty. The head diver, who had carefully ex- 
amined the wreck on the day before, knew where to find the chests of gold, 



198 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

and guided his companion very cleverly through the dangerous labyrinth 
which it was necessary to traverse. They proceeded with the greatest pos- 
sible caution, stooping to avoid any blows which might have broken the 
glass in the iront of their helmets, and keeping one hand on the air tube to 
prevent it from becoming entangled around anything, and the other on the 
rope to be ready to give the signal for re-ascending to the men above. 

All went well at first. Courtaumer held himself proudly erect. He was 
not afraid. But an ordeal upon which he had not relied was in store for 
him, an ordeal calculated to chill the bravest heart. 

The chests were there, standing in the same order as when they were 
first placed on board the ship. They were so strong and heavy that the 
water had neither broken nor displaced them. Courtaumer saw them so dis- 
tinctly that he could count them, but in the bluish light that descended 
through twenty fathoms of water, he also distinguished shapeless forms, 
which were moving slowly to and fro, swayed by the almost imperceptible 
undulation of the water. These shadowy forms sometimes floated past the 
glass front of his helmet, sometimes they touched him, and sometimes tat- 
tered fragments of clothing coiled round his arms. He understood and 
staggered, and if his guide had not supported him, he would have fallen, 
for his courage suddenly failed him. 

The treasure was guarded by corpses. The vessel had sunk so suddenly 
that such sailors as were not on deck at the moment the catastrophe occurred, 
had been drowned in the hold below. Death had overtaken them there, 
and there they had remained. Buffeted for two long years by the waves, 
they were no longer anything but shapeless objects, and Jacques shuddered 
with horror on coming in contact with their remains. His companion, 
more accustomed to such sights, led him to the last chest — the one which 
had been opened. It stood in a corner, and Courtaumer could scarcely dis- 
tinguish it, so dim was the light. A dense fog seemed to envelop each ob- 
ject, and the sense of touch proved a more useful agent than that of vision. 
Courtaumer followed the example of his companion, who had knelt down 
before this chest, the lid of which had been removed. He plunged his 
hands into it, and at the very bottom he had the satisfaction of finding 
several bars of gold, which the unknown divers who had preceded him had 
not yet carried away. He even allowed himself the pleasure of taking one 
out, so that he might show it to Doutrelaise. This booty satisfied him for 
the time being, and he was rising again when his other hand came in con- 
tact with a long, circular object, something like a column. He thought at 
first that it was one of the iron pillars that support the deck of a vessel ; 
but, on grasping it, he discovered that the substance was elastic. Aston- 
ished by this singular discovery, he turned and found himself face to face 
with an object which was oscillating slowly to and fro, like a half-filled 
bottle immersed in an upright position. The object resembled a man in 
shape, and Jacques fancied he could see a kind of metallic light gleaming 
through the comparative darkness. He approached still nearer, and his 
forehead came in contact with a glass plate, while his arms clasped a flaccid 
and gummy substance. 

Then the truth stood revealed. The phantom which had arisen before 
him was a diver, equipped in a helmet and cuirass like his own. Courtaumer 
summoned courage enough to look through the glass of the phantom helmet 
and he thought he could see a livid face, the face of a drowned man behind 
it. He who had trespassed on the Count de la Calprenede's domain was 
dead, and his death had doubtless been the result of an accident. Probably 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 199 

che air- cube had broken. Still, how did it happen that the unfortunate 
diver's comrades had'not drawn his body out of the water ? A strange sus- 
picion darted through Jacques' mind. He caught hold of the tube which 
was floating above the man's head. It was very long, and it took him some 
time to draw it in. When he at last secured the end of it, he saw that it 
had been severed by a single blow 1 The end was perfectly smooth, and the 
tube could only have been cut by a very sharp instrument, wielded by an adroit 
and powerful hand. Further doubt was impossible. The diver had been 
murdered by the companion who had remained in the boat to send him 
the air he needed. Moreover, the tube had not only been cut, but knotted. 

Courtaumer's presence of mind did not desert him. He returned to his 
guide, who was filling the bag suspended from his belt with gold, and led 
him to this lifeless body. They could not exchange their opinions, but they 
understood each other, and with one accord gave the signal to be drawn to 
the surface. A moment later they emerged from the water like two mar- 
ine monsters, close to the boat, and Doutrelaise, who was anxiously await- 
ing their re-appearance, gave a cry of joy on seeing his friend again. 

Courtaumer was the first to ascend the ladder and place himself in the 
hands of the two men in charge of the air-pump, so that they might divest 
him of his rather clumsy habiliments. "Whew 1 " he exclaimed, when his 
helmet had been removed. " I am not sorry to see sunlight again. There 
is no doubt the blue sky is wonderfully lovely. Give me a glass of brandy, 
one of you. I need something to warm me. It is very damp down there." 

"You are back again, thank God!" exclaimed Doutrelaise. "I hope 
you won't repeat your experiment. What did you see down there 1 " 

"Many frightful things, my friend." 

" Oh, I understand. The chests are empty." 

"By no means ; on the contrary, they are all full, with one exception, 
and Monsieur de la Calprenede is to-day the possessor of eleven millions. 
Some of his money has been stolen from him, it is true, but no one will steal 
what remains, for I have just seen the lifeless body of one of the thieves, 
and as it is more than probable that there were but two, the other will be 
obliged to relinquish his undertaking. " 

" The lifeless body of one of the thieves, did you say ? " 

" Yes, his among many others. The ship is a floating cemetery ; those 
who were drowned in it are still there. But the thief wore the costume of 
a diver, and everything indicates that it was his comrade who cut the 
air-tube. We can't leave him there. I am resolved to see his face." 

" This is certainly an extraordinary adventure." 

" No more extraordinary than the accident which insured Monsieur de la 
Calprenede an immense fortune. But I must ascertain who the thief is." 

" But how can you hope to do that? His face will not reveal his name. 
It is more than probable that you have never seen him before." 

" That is quite likely ; still, he did not fall from the sky into the sea. 
He probably resides in Porsal or some other village on the coast. The men 
hereabouts will recognise him." 

" What if it were the Englishman who is so fond of fishing for lobsters." 

' ' Not a bad idea. I have no more faith in his passion for Crustacea than 
you have — the lobsters were only an excuse. But now I think of it, you 
saw him only yesterday, and in that case the crime must have been perpe- 
trated last night ; and, upon my word, that is quite possible." 

"It is even certain, for on examining the wreck yesterday, the diver 
didn't find this body." 



200 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

" No, or he would have mentioned the fact. He is removing his accoutre- 
ments now, and as soon as he has finished I will question him." 

" The more I reflect upon it, the more firmly I am convinced that I'm not 
mistaken. I recollect now, that while I was talking with the Englishman 
at the castle, I told him that you would not work at night, so he knew that 
he would meet no one on the rock. I remember, too, that he also declared 
that his sojourn at Porsal was drawing to an end, and that he meant to re- 
turn to England when his yacht arrived." 

" He probably told you that to mislead you. I'll bet a handsome amount 
that he has already decamped. It will be easy to satisfy ourselves on that 
point, however. Porsal isn't far off." 

" Then it must be his associate who was drowned, or rather murdered." 

"Unless the friend drowned the Englishman. This much is certain ; one 
of the two men murdered his companion and probably so as not to have to 
share the spoil. These men came here to obtain possession of several 
millions that did not belong to them. We disturbed them just as they were 
beginning operations. Your conversation with one of them enlightened 
them as to our plans, and they realised that they would not be able to con- 
tend against us. They had barely had time enough to secure a few hundred 
thousand francs ; and to scoundrels who had hoped to appropriate millions, 
this was a very poor haul. So the greater scoundrel of the two said to him- 
self : ' I will keep this money for myself.' " 

" And to obtain possession of it, the wretch murdered his friend ! " cried 
Doutrelaise. " If it was the man I saw yesterday, I should not be surprised, 
for he had the face of a bandit. But I am surprised that the other one, who 
certainly can't have been much better, should have allowed himself to be 
caught in such a trap." 

" I think I understand how it occurred. The Englishman suggested that 
they should take advantage of their last night to empty, the chest they had 
already opened, and his companion consented. It was probably agreed that 
they should take turns in diving. One went down while the other remained 
on the rock to supply him with air. The Englishman must have gone down 
first, and filled his pockets. Then he came up and his companion descended 
and while he was filling his bag, the Englishman cut the air-tube some dis- 
tance below the surface of the water, and instant death ensued. Then the 
Englishman returned to Porsal, packed up his stolen gold — " 

"I should not be surprised if he kept it secreted in some subterranean 
vault in the old castle. When I met him he looked as if he had just emerged 
from the bowels of the earth." 

" Wherever he may have stored it, you may rest assured that he has 
taken it away with him, He had probably already engaged a vehicle to 
take him to Brest, where he would arrive in time for the eleven 
o'clock train. To-morrow morning he will be in Paris." 

" How unfortunate it is that there is no telegraph office at Porsal ! " 

"Bah ! a telegram would do no good. To whom would you send it? 
Besides, you don't know the man's name, nor could you describe him." 

" Still, we ought to inform the authorities. Monsieur de la Calprenede 
will be very angry with you if you do not." 

" For the sake of the three-quarters of a million that the rascal has stolen 
from him ? If I were in the count's place I should be quite resigned to my 
loss. Of course I shall have the body of the drowued man brought on shore, 
but I shall then leave the matter in the hands of the Justice of the Peace. 
However, let me first confer with my diver, whose helmet is off now." 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 201 

The diver advanced in obedience to Courtaumer's gesture, and without 
waiting to be questioned, said : " Captain, the men have just found a rope 
which I am inclined to think is the one fastened around the waist of the un- 
fortunate man we just saw. His companions must have been infernal 
scoundrels to leave him there after cutting the air- tube. " 

" We will draw him out, my good fellow. It isn't likely that we shall 
be able to resuscitate him, but we shall at least be able to discover what 
place he belongs to. Now, my hearties," cried Courtaumer to the sailors, 
" catch hold and pull lively ! " 

Four strong men seized the rope, the end of which they had discovered 
floating on the water, and pulled at it lustily. 

Courtaumer and Doutrelaise watched the operation with intense interest, 
for they would soon know who this man was whose life had paid the pen- 
alty of his dishonesty. 

" Captain," said an old sailor who was standing behind them, " old Guinic 
is just leaving Porsal harbour, and he seems to be steering north of Green 
Island. It is he who generally takes tourists about, when there are any at 
Porsal, and perhaps he is taking some visitors to the yacht." 

" I am not expecting any," replied Courtaumer. 

"It is very strange," murmured Doutrelaise. 

" Not so strange as the manoeuvers of that sailing boat which is approach- 
ing us," remarked Jacques. "See what a zigzag course it is pursuing." 

" There is but one man in it, if I'm not mistaken." 

" And he is evidently no seaman, and if the wind freshens, he will cer- 
tainly capsize his craft, It is some one whose boating experience has been 
confined to fresh water. So much the worse for him, if he falls into the 
sea. " 

"It would be a charity to send a couple of your sailors to lend him a 
helping hand," said Doutrelaise. 

" We will see about that presently. Let us get the body up, first." 

"Here it comes," replied the panting sailors in chorus. 

A moment later, the two friends saw the dead man rising straight up out 
of the water like a marine god emerging from his watery kingdom. He was 
lifted on board the boat and laid upon his back. The glass front of his 
helmet reflected the sunlight, and Courtaumer, who was bending over him, 
could not see his face. "Captain," timidly remarked one of the sailors, 
who was watching the movements of the boat that Jacques had spoken of 
a moment or two before, "the Parisian is steering straight towards the rocks 
to the south of Green Island." 

" Let him do so. If he has come to bathe he will be satisfied." 

" Here is the thief, captain," now exclaimed the coxswain who had just 
removed the helmet from the head of the corpse. " It is no resident of this 
district, fortunately. I was sure Bretons didn't dive to defraud others." 

" As God hears me, I believe it is that scoundrel Matapan ! " cried Jacques. 

" Matapan ! " repeated Doutrelaise. "That is impossible." 

"It is he, I am sure of it," replied Courtaumer. "Death hasn't altered 
him beyond recognition. Look at that satyr-like face, that black beard—" 

' ' Yes, 1 recognize him now. How strange ! I can't understand it. " 

" But I understand it perfectly. The baron must have discovered Mon- 
sieur de la Calprcnede's secret, and have promised himself that he would 
come off winner in the race for the millions. He secretly organized a little 
expedition to Porsal, and took advantage of his clandestine departure to in- 
jure you by inventing that story of a duel which he reported to the authori- 



202 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

bies. It wasn't a badly contrived conspiracy, by any means ; but he was 
unfortunate in his choice of an associate. " 

" Who was, of course, the scoundrel I met yesterday." 

" Tell me, Albert, were the Englishman's ears pierced ? " 

" Yes, I forgot to mention it ; but I recollect now that they were." 

" Then I know him. It was the rascal you saw seated beside me in the 
Champs-Elysees one day — the man who asked me about Matapan, and whom 
on another occasion I saw talking with Marchefroid, the door-keeper. 
I'm not surprised that you didn't recognise him. The day you saw 
him you did not have much time to study his features. His presence in the 
Champs-Elysees annoyed me, and I left the place as soon as you came up, 
and if, as I am almost certain, it was he whom you met yesterday, you may 
rest assured that he has returned to Paris. However let us leave him to 
the hanging he so richly deserves, and decide what we shall do with the 
baron's remains. You cannot suppose that I have any desire to preserve 
them as a relic. I think I will send the body to Porsal as it is, allowing 
the mayor and custom-house officers to take such measures as they may con- 
sider advisable." 

" Captain," interrupted one of the sailors, pointing to the little boat 
which was still following an erratic course between the shore and Green 
Island, " that craft will be on the rocks in ten minutes or so. The man on 
board knows no more about managing her than I do about growing cabbages. " 

" Let us spare him the annoyance of swallowing a dose of salt water," 
replied Jacques. " Take the ship's boat and go to his help." 

" I will accompany them," said Doutrelaise. 

"Very well. I shall return to the yacht. If we are to have any visitors, 
I must be there to receive them. Matapan can remain here for the present. 
The long boat can return for him by-and-bye and take him ashore. Hasten 
to the relief of that simpleton over there. If he is left to himself much 
longer, we shall have two dead men on our hands, instead of one." 

Doutrelaise jumped into the boat in which four sturdy men were waiting, 
oar in hand. To te'l the truth, he was not sorry to leave Courtaumer the 
task of superintending the removal of Matapan's body from the long-boat 
to the island. The boat flew along like a sea-gull, and Doutrelaise, seated 
at the stern, had nothing to do but keep the rudder straight, and watch 
the dangerous manoeuvres of the inexperienced navigator to whose assistance 
he was speeding. The imprudent fellow was evidently rushing to destruc- 
tion, for the wind was driving him towards the rough and jagged rocks a- 
round Green Island. Two or three times, he had attempted to put about, 
but he did so, so clumsily, that his sail proved a hindrance rather than a help. 
He now seemed to have renounced all hope of changing his course, and 
apparently made no effort to guide his frail craft. The catastrophe which 
was inevitable under such circumstances soon occurred. A powerful wave 
dashed his boat upon a large rock ; it turned a kind of somersault in the air, 
and the next moment its unfortunate occupant was struggling in the waves. 
" Good God ! he is overboard ! " cried Doutrelaise. " Pull, my good fellows, 
pull, we may save him yet. " 

" If he's a good swimmer there is still a chance for him, but the current 
is very strong there," muttered one of the sailors. "But I have lost sight of 
him ! — he has gone down ! " he added. 

"Then he will never rise to the surface again, " rejoined Doutrelaise. ' ' He 
must be some distance off already. Keep on rowing. Don't pause an in- 
utaut ! " They were now only a dozen yarrls or so from the boat, which ww! 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 203 

drifting along, keel uppermost. " There he is ! he has just come to the sur- 
face again," cried Albert. " One more pull and we shall reach him." 

The moment of hope was short. A wave which had just broken upon the 
rock again engulfed the drowning man as it recoiled. " We cannot allow him 
to perish ! " exclaimed Doutrelaise, greatly agitated. No one replied. 
The sailors felt no desire to risk their lives in an attempt to save a Parisian 
who had only met with what he deserved. There was no one to blame but 
himself, after all. Why had he not remained on shore — or, if he was so 
anxious for a sail, why had he not gone with old Guinic, who was an 
experienced seaman, and who had just rounded the point in safety? "If 
you won't save him, I will," cried Albert, and with these words he plunged 
boldly into the waves. He was an excellent swimmer, but his clothes 
hampered his movements, and he soon perceived that he had not strength 
enough to stem the violent current which was bearing him towards 
Bosseven. His men had instantly put the boat about and were rowing 
hard to overtake him, but he had already been carried a long distance off. 
He felt that he himself might be able to reach the rock where Matapan's 
lifeless form reposed ; but he began to despair of accomplishing the rescue 
he had so generously attempted, when suddenly a rigid hand caught hold 
of his coat collar. His courage failed him for a moment. He knew that 
drowning men never release their hold, and he was afraid that the 
amateur seaman might clutch one of his arms or legs with his other hand, 
and thus paralyze his movements. Fortunately, however, the drowning 
man was almost unconscious, and had exhausted his remaining strength in 
this final effort. He retained his hold on Albert's collar, but showed no 
other signs of life. All that Doutrelaise had to do was to keep his head 
out of the water, and try not to allow the current to carry him much 
further out, until the boat could overtake him. 

" Hold on ! " cried the sailors in chorus. He did hold on, and in two or 
three minutes time the boat was near enough for an oar to be held out to 
him. Then one of the sailors caught hold of the Parisian amateur by the 
waistband, another grasped Doutrelaise by the collar, and, with the 
assistance of two others, lifted them both on board. The half-drowned 
man was deposited at the bottom of the boat, and when Doutrelaise having 
somewhat recovered, turned to look at him he was thunderstruck to 
recognize Julien de la Calprenede. " Is he dead ? " he asked frantically. 

" Oh no, sir," replied one of the sailors, who was kneeling beside the 
unconscious man, and after opening a flask of brandy, he placed it between 
Julien's parted lips, saying as he did so : " This is the best remedy in the 
world for gentlemen who have swallowed too much salt-water. All the 
rubbing in the world won't do as much good as a drink of brandy." 

He was right. Scarcely had a few drops of alcohol trickled down Julien's 
throat, than he started ; whereupon the amateur doctor doubled the dose, 
and the patient soon opened his eyes. " Where am I ? " he murmured. 

" On board a boat whose owner has just rescued you from "a very danger- 
ous position, my good sir," replied the sailor. 

Just then, young Calprenede perceived Doutrelaise but a few steps from 
him with a pale face and dripping garments. "You !" he exclaimed, 
' ' was it you who — " And such was his emotion that he fainted away again. 

" Don't be alarmed," said the seaman, " he will soon be all right again. 
I will put my jacket over him, and when we get him aboard the yacht we 
will put him to bed, and make him drink some hot toddy. He will be on 
his feet again in an hour." Doutrelaise eould not reply ; lie was literally 



204 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR 

speechless with emotion, but the sailor resumed : ' ' The long-boat has 
already started for the yacht with the captain. We had better do the 
same, had we not, sir ? " 

" Yes, yes, row to the yacht," faltered Albert at last. He was eager to 
inform Courtaumer of this strange adventure, and he anxiously asked 
himself what had brought Julien to Bosseven. The young fellow seemed 
predestined to commit acts of folly. This last one had nearly cost him his 
life ; the others had nearly cost him his honour ; and although Doutrelaise 
could reproach himself for having been the involuntary cause of the opal 
necklace affair, he could also boast of having rescued Julien from certain 
death. Was not this enough to induce young Calprenede to forgive his 
former offence ? 

Doutrelaise was so troubled in mind that he did not venture to attend 
the young man himself, nor was it necessary, for the cordial administered 
to him by the sailor had proved wonderfully efficacious. Julien gradually 
regained consciousness, and the impromptu doctor, who had begun to rub 
his patient vigorously, was becoming more and more sure of his speedy 
recovery. The other sailors were rowing with all possible despatch towards 
the yacht, and the trip was speedily accomplished. 

The yacht was swinging at anchor near old Guinic's boat, which had 
ust been made fast to its stern. There were no strangers on board, how- 
ever, and Jacques was not to be seen, and Doutrelaise soon discovered why, 
for the following conversation ensued between one of his men and the 
boatswain who was waiting for them on the larboard side, " Where is 
the captain ? " asked the seaman. 

"Some relatives from Paris have come to see him," said the boatswain, 
"and they have gone in search of one of their friends, who insisted upon 
sailing over alone. He has failed to arrive however." 

"We have brought him with us. His boat capsized, and we picked 
him up. Come down and help us to get him aboard. I suppose there are 
some ladies, as you have lowered the gangway ? " 

" Two of them," answered the boatswain. 

This reply made Albert's heart throb violently. He did not know what 
course to pursue, for although he longed to rejoin Jacques, he did not like 
to leave Julien. 

Fortunately, the latter had in a great measure recovered his strength 
and he now managed to raise himself up and say in a husky voice : "Just 
steady me a little, and I can get up the ladder without being carried." 

The sailors did not obey him to the letter, but grasped him under both 
arms, and with their aid he was able to climb on board. Doutrelaise also 
climbed up in tnrn, but he was overwhelmed with consternation. Arlette'a 
brother had shown no disposition to thank him, or even to speak to him. 
Perhaps he did not yet realize that he owed his life to Doutrelaise ; perhaps 
he had not even seen him. Indeed, Julien fainted again as soon as he set 
foot on deck. The effort he had made had been too much for him. He 
was carried into Courtaumer's cabin and put to bed, and Doutrelaise had 
just decided to address him by name when the boatswain, who had 
followed our hero, whispered : " The captain is expecting you on shore." 

" I'm going," replied Doutrelaise. " Did he witness the accident ? " 

" No ; the boat must have struck on one of the rocks at the other end of 
the island, which can't been seen from this point; but the captain appre. 
hended some trouble, and he was very anxious. He told me to ask you to 
join him ae soon as nossible. But, you have been in the water too, sir. 



THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 205 

It would, perhaps, be better for you to change your clothes before you 
go." 

"That isn't necessary," replied Doutrelaise, although he was shivering 
with the cold. " See that this young man is well cared for. 1 leave him 
in your charge. One of the sailors will suffice to take me to the island." 

" Very well, sir. You need have no fears about the Parisian ; in an 
hour's time he will quite have forgotten his bath." 

Doutrelaise hurried on deck, leaped into the boat which was awaiting 
him, and in another moment lie had landed on the island and was climbing 
the rocky slope. On reaching the summit of the hill, he espied some dis- 
tance in advance of him a group composed of several persons, among whom 
he could distinguish a couple of ladies. He hurried towards them, and 
soon saw a man leave the group and hasten to meet him. It was Jacques, 
who, when within speaking distance, cried out : " Where is Julien 1 " 

" Saved ! " replied Doutrelaise, who was panting with fatigue and emotion. 
"I jumped into the water after him, and was fortunate enough to get 
him out, but at one moment I thought we were both going to drown." 

" Did you take him to the yacht ? " 

" Yes. He is out of danger, but he has not forgiven me." 

" He had better do so, although by capsizing his boat he did you a great 
service, unconsciously, it is true. Would you believe it ? the simpleton 
thought he could come to Bosseven alone, he who had never sailed a boat 
in his life ! Ah, you will be cordially received, I assure you. His father 
and sister think him dead. They have just seen the boat drifting about." 

" His father and sister ! What, are they here ? " 

" Yes, and my aunt accompanies them. Look, they are running towards 
us as fast as they can." 

Doutrelaise felt almost ready to faint, but Jacques caught hold of his 
hand and dragged him along. "My son! have you seen my son?" ex- 
claimed M. de la Calprenede. 

_" He will dine with us this evening," replied Courtaumer, gaily. "But 
if this good fellow had not plunged into the sea after him, we should 
never have seen him again." 

" What, sir," stammered the count, " is it to you that I am indebted — " 

" If you doubt it you have only to look at him. He reminds me forcibly 
of a Triton," said Courtaumer, laughing. 

Doutrelaise said nothing, but Arlette was there and he ventured to give 
her a timid glance. " I knew you would save him," she murmured. 

" Well, well," exclaimed Madame de Vervins, who although the last to 
come up, had heard everything, " so here you are, sir, you who so shame- 
lessly desert your partners at whist ! Still, I suppose I must forgive you 
as you have saved Julien. But give me your art, I am quite exhausted." 

And she caught hold of the arm of our hero, whose presence of mind 
seemed to have entirely deserted him. Mademoiselle de la Calprenede and 
her father were already some distance in advance, for they were anxious to 
reach the yacht, and see Julien. Before doing so, however, Arlette had found 
time to thank her lover with a look into which she threw her whole pc - j!. 

" Let them run on," said the marchioness to Doutrelaise ; "I am not equal 
to any further achievements in that line, and I wish to talk with you. You 
scarcely expected to see me here, did you ? I came merely to help you a 
little. At my age, one leaves home only to serve one's friends. Oh, no 
compliments ! You are my nephew's friend, and consequently mine, and 
between us, we are going to marrv you. You start — you can't believe in 



206 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

so much happiness. Nevertheless, it is an accomplished tact. Yes, sir, 
you shall marry Arlette. Calprenede will grant you his daughter's hand 
this evening. Who shall ask it for you ? You think perhaps that I mean 
to do so. Not at all ; it will be Jacques. And do you know how he will 
set about it ? " 

" No, madame," faltered Doutrelaise. " And I confess I doubt—" 
" His success ? You are wrong. Listen to me. The millions are found, 
are they not ? and Calprenede will owe his immense fortune to my nephew, 
who is his partner both in justice and in fact — to my nephew, who might 
rightly claim one half of the money. But Jacques won't do so. He took 
his precautions. He made the count promise to give him any reward he 
might ask for, but he did not specify the nature of his recompense. So this 
very day he will go to the count, and say something like this to him : ' I 
have enriched you, sir, and I entreat you, and if need be, I require you to 
unite Mademoiselle de la Calprenede to my most intimate friend, Albert 
Doutrelaise, who loves her to distraction, and whom she loves with all her 
heart in return.' Come, do you still doubt his success? Why, you 
simpleton, you forget that you have just saved Julien's life. A father 
would be heartless to refuse your offer after that. You will be married in 
two months, my boy. It is I who tell you so ; and your romance will end 
like all fairy tales. You will marry, and live happily every afterwards. 
I don't wish to boast, but you will soon see what a valiant champion you 
have in me — on one condition, however, that you'll help me to find Jacques 
as perfect a wife as Madame Arlette Doutrelaise will be." 



EPILOGUE. 

Six weeks have elapsed since the memorable day when Matapan's dead 
body was found in the depths of the sea, and Julien was rescued from the 
waves. All the money has not been yet recovered, but there are already 
nine millions on board the yacht, and the other two will soon follow them, 
for Jacques de Courtaumer is pressing forward the work, as he wishes to 
be back in Paris before the end of February, so as to be present at Albert's 
marriage, which will, perhaps, be solemnized before Lent. It may be found 
necessary to defer it until Easter, however, for Mademoiselle de la Cal- 
prenede has scarcely recovered from the trying ordeal to which she was 
subjected on Green Island. What cruel and sweet emotions she experienced 
there ! Between the rising and the setting of the January sun, Arlette 
passed from the bitterest grief to the most intense joy. In the morning, she 
believed that her brother was dead, and in the evening that same brother, 
rescued from the waves, u aited with Jacques de Courtaumer and Madame 
de Vervins in conquering the opposition of the Count de la Calprenede, who 
still hesitated about bestowing his daughter's hand on a suitor who, what- 
ever his good qualities, had not been born a nobleman. Julien's foolish 
animosity toward his preserver had already vanished. In those moments 
when he was so near death, the truth was revealed to him, and when his 
eyes again opened to the sunlight, they opened to reason as well. The once 
incorrigible youth will soon give incontestable proof of his thorough reforma- 
tion for, directly his sister's marriage has taken place, he will enlist 
in a regiment of cavalry bound for Africa ; and there is all the more merii 
in this atonement, as he will some day inherit a very large fortune. 
Matapan's body lies in the graveyard at Porsal. As one may readily be 



I'HE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 207 

lieve, his death made a great stir in Brittany and in Par is. The authorities 
of Brest began an investigation which was continued in the capital, and 
which led to some curious discoveries, but not to the arrest of the murderer. 
A warrant was certainly issued against the Englishman who had occupied 
the house with the green shutters, but, as Courtaumer had foreseen, the 
scoundrel decamped immediately after committing the crime, taking a 
chestful of gold away with him. The air-pump and the other implements 
used by himself and his friend were discovered in one of the subterranean 
vaults of Tremazan Castle. The assassin was tracked from Porsal to Brest, 
and from Brest to Paris, but there all trace of him was lost. No clue to his 
whereabouts was discovered until a week or so ago, when the worthy com- 
missary of police, who had rendered Doutrelaise such valuable assistance 
when he was unjustly accused, received orders to make a careful in- 
pection of the house on the Boulevard Haussmann. On searching Matapan's 
rooms, the secret cupboard in the wall was found to be empty. The baron 
had evidently placed his gold and jewels in a safer place prior to his 
departure. At last the cellars were searched, and in the lowest of them, 
behind an iron door, and among heaps of valuables and coins of all kinds 
and countries, lay a lifeless form, terribly mutilated by rats. Doutrelaise 
at once recognized it as the corpse of the pretended Englishman — of the 
former pirate, Giromon. His sudden disappearance was now explained. 
He had stolen the key of the cellar in which Matapan had deposited his 
valuables, and on his arrival at Paris had gone straight to the Boulevard 
Haussmann, but although he had managed to enter the cellar, he had not 
been able to leave it. The door was furnished with a spring-lock, and to 
open it from the inside it was necessary to be acquainted with the secret of 
another lock. Giromon was ignorant of this, and so he must have died of 
starvation. What did he do with the gold he abstracted from the depths 
of the sea ? No one can say as yet. Perhaps it will be found some day in 
a trunk left at a railway station or some boarding-house. Could the ex- 
pirate have managed to effect an entrance into the baron's apartments with- 
out the assistance of the doorkeeper and the valet ? It is hard to believe 
it, but it is even more difficult to prove their complicity. Besides, as soon 
as the news of their employer's death was received, the two men made hasty 
preparations for departure. 

Marchefroid abandoned his quarters near the door of the house for a 
pretty suite of rooms at Batignolles, where he lives on his income. He has 
changed from a Radical to an Opportunist republican, and it is reported 
that the lodge of Freemasons to which he belongs will soon elect him Master. 
This is a first step towards political honours. His daughter, the beautiful 
Lelia, has secured him this leisure and this comparative luxury. M. Bour- 
leroy, senior, still admires her, and Anatole, who is aware of the parental 
delinquencies, takes advantage of the situation to extort money from his 
father in the most shameless manner. With plenty of cash at his command, 
the young rascal shrinks from nothing. He gets drunk every night in the 
week, is turned out almost every time he goes to the theatre, and is shunned 
like the plague at the club. His sister Herminie is now about to marry a 
druggist who has retired from business with a handsome fortune. She 
nearly died of chagrin when she learned that Arlette was to have a dowry 
of two millions, and for a time it was feared that jaundice would set in. 

Ali, the civilized Malay, has found a situation worthy of his merits. He 
has entered the service of a dentist who practises his calling during the 
summer months at country fairs, and Ali is preparing himself for his new 



208 THE MATAPAN AFFAIR. 

position by studying the trombone, in order to accompany his master. He 
aid not mourn for the baron, but he regrets he was unable to rob him. 

The Marchioness de Vervins is unspeakably happy. She has found the 
best of husbands for her dear Arlette, and believing that a good example is 
contagious, she does not despair of persuading Jacques to marry. In the 
meantime, she declares that the trip to the sea-shore has made her feel 
twenty years younger. She has resumed her evening receptions, and is 
giving superb dinners to all her old friends. The two old retired officers 
are both paying assiduous court to her, hoping that she may take it into 
her head to give the deceased marquis a successor, and she flirts with them 
in the most shameful manner. 

It should be mentioned, moreover, that a strange idea has taken possession 
of her mind. She declares that somnambulism killed Matapan, that he 
went to sleep at the bottom of the sea, and woke in another world. The 
great point is that he is dead, and will never again return to disturb the 
slumbers of hia tenants. Adrien de Courtaumer, who has withdrawn his 
resignation, has not forgiven the baron for having almost compelled him to 
abandon his functions, and Madame Adrien will always feel rather unkindly 
towards the Calprenedes, who were the indirect cause of her husband's 
worry. To console her, the marchioness loads her with presents, and holds 
long conferences with her notary on the subject of adding a codicil to her 
will. She also thinks of purchasing the residence of the deceased baron, 
and presenting it to her nephew Jacques, as a souvenir of the campaign 
which he had conducted so skilfully. And Jacques really deserves some 
reward, for he has displayed most commendable self-sacrifice and generosity. 
He has given millions to the count, a charming wife to Doutrelaise, and 
kept nothing for himself save his freedom and independence, with which he 
is well content. He hardly cares to become a landlord, especially the land- 
lord of the mansion where Baron Matapan once reigned as master. " It might 
cause me to become a somnambulist," he remarked the other day in a letter 
to his aunt, who had written to notify him of her project. 

At all events, the house in which all these strange events occurred is to 
be sold, as well as all the personal property of the baron who left no known 
heirs. It is still a question, and one that will probably never be answered, 
whether Matapan was his real or an assumed name. Even Ali is unable to 
say, for his master confided none of his secrets to him. The property will 
revert to the State when the time allowed to claimants has expired, and it 
is more than probable that the trustees will sell everything that is likely to 
deteriorate or diminish in value. 

Madame de Vervins is waiting for the opal necklace, and hopes to live 
long enough to purchase it, cost what it may, when the day of the sale 
arrives. She did think of presenting it to Mademoiselle de la Calprenede 
as a bridal gift, but the baron's affairs are not yet wound up, and the 
wedding is near at hand. Beside, Albert Doutrelaise, whom she has con- 
sulted, is opposed to the plan, for he feels certain that opals bring misfortune. 

The marchioness insists that these ones only brought misfortune upon the 
pirate who stole them from the rajah. But Doutrelaise dislikes them because 
they remind him of the Matapan affair, and Madame de Vervins would not 
ilisplease him for the world ; so Arlette will have pearls instead. 



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